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Who Is Accountable for Patient Injury Sustained in a Hospital?

The one place that everyone should expect to be safe, should be the hospital. Every floor is staffed with well-educated experts—nurses, surgeons, therapists, technicians—all of whom should be doing their best to ensure patient care is of the highest possible quality. Accidents do happen, however. Fortunately, many of them can be prevented with care and better attention. A study published in 2013 showed that preventable hospital errors were the third leading cause of death in the United States.

One of the most common preventable injuries in hospitals is falling. Patients such as the elderly are particularly vulnerable to fall injuries. Bones become more brittle as people age, mostly as a result of mineral loss and the gradual wear and tear of the disks between the vertebrae of the spine. A fall that could cause a younger person no more than a bruise could result in a bone fracture or tendon tear in an older individual. These injuries may increase fall-likelihood in the future, and they may be severe enough to affect the quality of life for the elderly individual from that point onward. In hip-fracture cases, 1 out of every 5 patients dies within a year of the injury. Even something as simple as ensuring any spilled liquids are quickly dispatched can help prevent many such accidents.

If you were injured during your stay at a hospital, or you were injured visiting a patient in the hospital, you may be able to sue for hospital negligence. The hospital is responsible for any of its employees whose carelessness caused your accident, apart from certain doctors and employees considered independent contractors. If, however, a doctor was not clearly represented as an independent contractor, or the hospital kept a clearly incompetent doctor on staff, a hospital negligence suit is still possible.

If you would like assistance determining who is responsible for your injury and if you can seek compensation, call one of our DC medical malpractice attorneys at 202.888.0872 or fill out our online form for a case review.