In Maryland hospital malpractice lawsuits, the Court of Appeals has followed the apparent authority theory of agency. Under this theory, if a Maryland hospital represents that a doctor is its servant or agent and thereby causes a patient to justifiably rely upon the care or skill of that doctor, the hospital is subject to liability to the patient for the doctor’s medical malpractice. The Maryland courts have historically understood that it would be unreasonable to expect that an emergency room patient, with no understanding about the business of how hospitals are set up with respect to independent contractors, should have to inquire as to whether the doctor is an employee of the hospital.
When a malpractice lawyer in Maryland brings a vicarious liability claim against a hospital, it typically includes claims of failure to develop or follow policies and procedures that could have avoided or limited the plaintiff’s injuries from the malpractice. Lawsuits against Maryland hospitals also include, where appropriate, claims that the hospital negligently failed to properly train the agents or servants responsible for the negligence. Another potential claim against the hospital, although it applies less frequently, is negligent credentialing, which means the hospital was negligent in allowing the doctor (or nurse) to work in the hospital.
If you are bringing a malpractice claim against the doctors and the hospital in Maryland, it is often wise to determine if there was a corporate entity that employed the defendant doctors. This may provide additional insurance coverage for claims that are not available against the hospital and give the jury a corporate defendant to make it feel better about a plaintiff’s verdict.