Medical Malpractice Caused By Residents Can Make Physicians Liable

Medical Malpractice Mistakes

Summer in a hospital means that there will be an influx of new faces around the hallways. New classes of nurses and, most commonly, residents begin their jobs. Most residents are starting internships, their first experience after graduating and passing the boards. Other residents are in their residency, the years after their internship year, and they are learning to hone in their profession.

To most patients that might not mean a whole lot. But is does matter, and you need to be aware of it in case there is medical malpractice which causes you or a loved one serious personal injury.
Residents simply do not have the experienced, training, and skill that most physicians have. This can be very scary in a hospital setting where patients may be in for complicated surgeries, or come to the emergency room with life-threatening conditions. Some of the most common mistakes by residents are medication errors and mistakes, particularly in the type of medication or in dosing the appropriate amount. These mistakes can KILL a patient.

But who is liable for a resident’s mistake?

Well, first the resident! That is obvious. While most residents are not already well-established doctors with large checkbooks to pay out claims, they will have insurance. That insurance could be through their school which is furthering their education, or that insurance could be through their employer. This insurance is what can help pay for a medical malpractice claim.

Additionally, as noted, the teaching school could be liable in certain instances. Most schools, depending whether this is a rotation, internship, residency, or other opportunity, will still retain some control and supervision over the resident. This means that the school could still be liable for mistakes.

Most commonly the employer will be liable. This is under the basic master-servant relationship which has developed over many years of legal analysis and rulings. Employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees which includes a resident. Employers must ensure that their residents are properly performing procedures and acting within the standard of care. A mistake by a resident can be liable for the employer, including hospitals, medical offices, and surgical centers.

Sometime a resident will be under a physician. That physician will help take care of the resident as almost an apprentice relationship. If a resident commits medical malpractice under the care and direction of the physician who is supervising him or her, it can result in the liability of the supervising physician.