Are hospitals liable for medical malpractice claims against independent contractors?

Medical Doctor – Malpractice Liability

When physicians who staff hospitals are independent contractors and are not employees of the hospitals where they serve, it can be challenging to determine responsibility for medical malpractice charges brought against them.

Is the hospital responsible for addressing these charges, or is the independent contractor?

The short answer is: it depends.

While California courts recently clarified protocols so that hospitals may remain liable for medical malpractice charges brought against an independent contractor serving their patients, there are many factors that determine ultimate responsibility for alleged malpractice.

In any medical negligence or malpractice case, there may be a factual analysis to determine whether or not the contracting physician was an agent of the hospital and whether or not the patient clearly understood the physician’s employment status. The facts can reveal the true direction of the case and help to answer questions about who may need to answer for the alleged negligence or malpractice.

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