Hospital Physician Relationship in Medical Malpractice Defense

The hospital physician dynamic is something that an individual will never learn unless he experiences it first hand. Most of the time, if a patient is injured while at a hospital and begins a lawsuit for medical malpractice, he will sue not only the physician but also the hospital and any other practitioner who was involved in his negligent care and treatment. It is rare that he will sue only the physician because the hospital has the deep pockets. Most physicians are not employees of the hospital, but rather merely have privileges to treat their patients at the hospital. Most physicians are employees of their own corporation including a group of physicians practicing together.

A huge factor in the defense will be the amount of insurance available. If the physician has $500,000 worth of insurance coverage and the case can be settled within those limits, the hospital will work towards a stipulation to dismiss the case against them, especially if they were only the site of the negligence and did not have a negligent nurse or other staff member involved. A good plaintiff attorney will keep the hospital in to the end of the case or until it is settled to his satisfaction. A good attorney will argue that the hospital failed to have proper procedures and policies in place and find an argument for negligence. You can bet the physician wants the hospital to stay in the suit because it is another party who might pay out and save the physician’s money, and because there is power in numbers and it just feels better to have more than one team working towards the same goal.

Since the biggest factor is the amount of insurance available, it behooves all parties to include as many insured as possible in the pool. If there is another individual or entity whose actions could be questioned and they have insurance, they will be brought into the case. Unless of course, they are very valuable to the hospital, such as a practitioner who brings in an enormous amount of business to it. In that case, the hospital might refrain from working towards their inclusion and may assist in keeping them out.

The hospital and physician are on the same side of the game, both on the defense. They will attempt as much as possible to not lay blame on the other because they both need each other for their survival. They may strategize together unless or until the defense goes south and the position becomes every man for himself. If that happens, it will likely be the end of the relationship or the beginning of the end of the relationship, for good.

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