The typical medical malpractice case involves a doctor who acted negligently while treating a patient by failing to meet the standards required of medical professionals. But a recent case filed against a hospital has all the elements of a television drama as opposed to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
A hospital hired a doctor from a children’s hospital in another state where the doctor had faced charges of child molestation. The former employer failed to report the charges to the new employer. The doctor was then accused of molesting more children at the new hospital. After a lawsuit was filed against him by patients at the former hospital, the doctor committed suicide. A lawsuit was then filed against the former employer.
The parents of the children allegedly molested at the second hospital filed suit against the doctor’s former employer, but the claim was dismissed on the grounds that the former hospital had no duty to parents in another state. The case has now been appealed to the state Supreme Court.
The former employer contends that allowing the suit to go forward would set a dangerous precedent for hospital negligence law and possibly even extend liability to businesses in other industries for the conduct of former employees.
The attorney for the parents says that the hospital had a duty to inform. He provided an analogy to a dangerous condition, such as the Ebola virus, asking whether a hospital would have a duty to warn others if they knew that someone with the virus had left their facility.
This case is a reminder of a basic legal principle. Hospitals in California and across the country have a duty to provide a high standard of care and to ensure that their doctors, nurses and other employees are competent. Hospitals must put processes and procedures into place to prevent medical mistakes and abuse. When hospital negligence results in harm, the victims and their loved ones have the right to seek justice.
Source: Boston Herald, “SJC to decide if suits vs. Boston Children’s Hospital can proceed,” Bob McGovern, April 7, 2014