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What is Hospital Negligence?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Hospital negligence is typically a type of negligence performed by the staff at a hospital, which can include doctors, nurses, and administrators. This is usually any sort of action that purposefully or inadvertently has a negative effect on the health of a person after staying in the hospital or undergoing a medical procedure. It is generally a type of medical malpractice, and though the two terms may be used somewhat interchangeably, they are not necessarily synonymous. Hospital negligence is typically seen as an accident, though the negative repercussions can still be great and it is often grounds for a civil lawsuit or malpractice claim.

In general, negligence is typically seen as any type of action or inaction that inadvertently creates a harmful or negative result for someone else. Hospital negligence is just a specific type of negligence, which is directly related to hospitals and similar medical facilities. The term may potentially be used in reference to patient care facilities, doctor’s offices, and even in home medical care as well, though this usage is obviously less precise. The common thread among different types of negligence is typically the fact that responsibility for the effects created by the action or inaction can be placed upon a person or group of people.

This responsibility is what establishes hospital negligence as grounds for legal recourse against a hospital and staff members directly involved in the case. For example, if someone came into a hospital for cancer treatment, but the treatment was unable to force the cancer into remission and the person died, then this would likely not be a case of hospital negligence. As long as the doctors and staff did everything within their power to help the person, and simply were unable to stop the progress of the illness due to technological limitations, there is no responsibility attributed to the hospital.

On the other hand, if someone came into a hospital for a surgical procedure, and during the procedure a surgeon cut something incorrectly or left a piece of equipment inside the person, then this would be grounds for hospital negligence. In this situation, the surgeon may have simply made a mistake, but ultimately it was an avoidable mistake. This means that responsibility for the action can be placed upon the surgeon, as well as the hospital itself for employing the person. The responsibility creates hospital negligence and this type of case would likely be open for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1002617 — On Jan 08, 2020

My husband is in St Frances Hospital in Memphis, Tn and was transported there from a region one hospital in Memphis, and the only thing he left there with was a cast on his right leg. He was transported since he's been there, his health has gone down and no one can give you a straight answer about anything, so a month after he was there, I asked about when someone was going to check on his ankle in the cast, but no one could tell me anything on the matter. So, I asked for a meeting about his care plan, and all the doctor could tell me is that he's a sick man. I asked in the meeting about the cast, and when I called to check on him the next day, that's when they told me the cast was taken off and no one said anything about the wound on top of his foot, until the case manger called and said it was a small spot and nothing to worry about.

I went there over the weekend and the nurse was changing the bandage and I saw it. I was upset and I took pictures of it and the nurse told me I cant take pictures, and now they are wanting to remove it, but that's not the only thing. I left one weekend and went back and he had a bedsore. This has just gotten to be too much for me to handle. Please help me!

By anon941867 — On Mar 24, 2014

It often is the hospital's fault. Instead of being angry at the few survivors who can afford to sue, why not blame the shoddy staff who caused the harm? Most lawsuits don't even get started unless the survivor can prove the staff acted below the level that a reasonable and prudent colleague with same training would have acted. If we need more lawsuits to get potentially dangerous people off health care teams, I am all for it!

By burcidi — On Sep 16, 2013

I would like to look at the issue from a different perspective. Hospital negligence cases are costing hospitals billions of dollars every year. This is making it harder and harder for private hospitals to stay afloat. Many are going bankrupt.

By bear78 — On Sep 15, 2013

@ZipLine-- I don't think so. I've seen estimates of deaths due to medical negligence, it varies between 100,000-200,000 people per year. Medical and hospital negligence definitely happens. Not everyone can file a lawsuit for it as they have to satisfy certain conditions and prove that the hospital was negligent and that the negligence caused harm to a patient. This means that hospital negligence really is widespread.

If there is a rise in lawsuits, I personally think that this is a good thing as hospital board of directors will put more emphasis on this issue. Hospital staff have a duty and conduct of care. We trust them with our lives. This is not a profession where negligence can be taken lightly and it shouldn't be.

By ZipLine — On Sep 15, 2013

Hospital and medical negligence lawsuits have been on the rise. I think almost everyone who has an unsuccessful treatment thinks that they can file a suit for negligence. It's getting a bit ridiculous.

Complications can arise during every treatment and it's not always the staff's fault. I know that it's not easy to lose a loved one, but this doesn't mean that it's the hospital's fault.

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