A few years back, you damaged your foot severely and had to undergo a surgery. Though the surgery was successful but you face yet another critical foot condition. You have fractured your foot badly and the current doctor suggests an X-Ray to identify the main troubling areas. But the X-Ray reports find out the previous surgeon left a medical instrument in your foot. Now, you can’t really remember the name of the medical professional but you do remember the name of the hospital where he treated you. And above all, you have a Podiatrist Malpractice case. But since the name of the surgeon is still not known, who can be held liable for this folly? The current foot doctor is telling you that you have to get the tool removed. But who is going to pay? Certainly it isn’t your fault so why should you pay?
Now you go to the hospital looking for the foot doctor only to find out the medical expert doesn’t work here anymore. Now what do you do? Does this mean you cannot make a claim? Well, in many cases, a common question that comes up front is who shall pay for the damage, the treating doctor or the hospital? Well, to get the answer to this question, we will have to look into the Vicarious Liability or the Respondeat Superior theory.
While you may have a Podiatrist Malpractice case, but that doctor who was negligent enough to cause you damage is not the only person who can be held liable. The liability factor goes far beyond. The hospital retaining the foot doctor as a member of its staff can be held liable vicariously under the Respondeat Superior theory for the wrongdoing of the doctor.
Respondeat Superior Theory
The term Respondeat Superior simply implies ‘Let the Master answer’. This is a legal term and principle under which the employer can be held liable for the negligence on his employee’s part. But it can only be done in certain circumstances. For the theory to be applicable, the negligent act by the foot doctor must fall under the ‘scope of employment’.
But what exactly is the Scope of Employment?
- The negligent act occurred when the foot doctor (an employee of that hospital) was on the clock and/or on duty.
- The injury or damage caused to the patient was done by an activity the doctor was hired to do. For instance diagnose, treatment, surgery etc.
- The employer, which in this case is the hospital, also benefited from the activity performed by the doctor, in one way or the other, that caused the injury.
- In all above factors, you can sue the hospital for the wrongdoing of the doctor who was hired by them. You can file a claim from the hospital under your Podiatrist Malpractice case.