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Failing to monitor staff may constitute hospital negligence

Readers of this medical malpractice blog may remember the recent media coverage of a hepatitis C outbreak caused by a single medical technician who was injecting and swapping drug-filled syringes with saline. The contaminated needles infected 45 patients, resulting in illness and two deaths. 

Although readers may think the 39-year prison sentence given to the technician represents justice, a medical malpractice attorney knows there are possible inquiries into liability and fault. For example, the technician had worked in eight states, yet hospital employment screening procedures had failed to detect the technician’s false representations in his work history.


Even after being hired, however, an attorney might inquire into the safeguards employed by the hospital over its staff. In this case, the syringed were prefilled. An attorney might question whether that practice conforms to the professional level of care expected of hospitals and doctors, or was simply a timesaving tactic. An attorney might also inquire into how a hospital safeguards against staff that might have drug addictions, as in the case of the technician. 

Hospital malpractice may seem like a daunting thing to prove, especially when a patient is injured or still recovering from an injury. For an attorney, however, such a task is part of the job. An attorney knows the standard of reasonable care expected of hospitals, and may have strategies for gathering evidence of when and how that standard may have been breached. A medical malpractice attorney may have the skills needed to prepare a strong case and withstand the potential intimidation tactics of the hospital’s insurance carrier. 

What this means for a victim in a car accident is that investigating the cause of the crash may be a worthwhile endeavor. Even if the cause seem apparent, as in the other driver running a red light or stop sign, the underlying cause may be more difficult to discover. For a personal injury attorney, however, such an investigation may be routine. An attorney may have strategies for gathering evidence that will prove to a jury that the other driver violated the standard of safe driving that is expected from everyone who gets behind the wheel.

Source: New York Times, “Why Aren’t Doctors Drug Tested?” Daniel R. Levinson and Erika T. Broadhurst, March 12, 2014

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