Who Is Liable For A Resident’s Medical Malpractice In New York?


A resident is a medical student who has completed his or her course of study, graduated from medical school, passed several tests, completed an intern year, and is now doing a set course of years under the supervision of a teaching hospital or other approved facility.  This is where a resident gets to apply all of his or her training, skill, and knowledge to perform the practice of medicine.  Other licensed physicians will help the resident learn his or her craft to become a full-fledged doctor.  This is a learning time, but also a time to hone in on a resident’s craft.  Most residents spend at least 3 years in a residency, but others spend more for more complex areas like surgery, neurology, or neuro-surgery.

Because of this, residents are bound to make mistakes.  Especially first year residents because they are still learning.  This means patients can be injured or killed due to a residents mistakes.  These mistakes can be painful too, and result in debilitating injuries or even death.

When a resident makes a mistake, it is obviously the resident’s fault and he or she can be liable. Even though many teaching hospitals say that residents are not liable, or there are agreements signed between the teaching hospital and the resident that the resident is not liable for mistakes, best practice is to include the resident for errors.

Thus, the teaching hospital is also liable for the resident’s mistakes—whether agreed upon or not.  This is because the resident is an actor of the teaching hospital, and the teaching hospital will be vicariously liable.

The same is true of the hospital, and the hospital will be liable for the teaching department and the resident.

Which then means the supervising physicians will also be liable.  They are responsible for the acts of the residents and need to be checking what they are doing.  During procedures, the physicians must be present for several critical points to earn credit for both the procedure and checking the resident.  If the physician is not, it can result in very serious injuries or death.