Can Hospitals be Liable for Patient Abuse in New York?

Hospitals, Nurses

It is a sad truth but some healthcare professionals do abuse patients. Patient abuse in New York is serious.  This abuse can come in the form of physical, sexual, financial, psychological, or neglect.  The most common population of patients that are abused are children or elderly patients.  These populations may not be able to fight back, understand right from wrong, or be able to report their abuse.  Other populations are medically unable (such as in a coma) or developmentally disabled or incompetent.

When abuse happens to a patient, the ramifications are huge.  We trust our healthcare providers to heal us, not harm us.  When patients are abused because of these negligent healthcare providers, they can result in very serious physical and emotional injuries.

But who is liable for this conduct?  Who is liable for patient abuse in New York?

Unfortunately, many insurance companies will disclaim for intentional conduct.  While neglect of a patient is more recklessness or negligence, many times the intentional abusers may be “judgment proof,” or otherwise unable to pay a judgment.

However, the hospital or employer may be liable for these staff members.  This is because a claim for negligent hiring, supervision, training, or entrustment could be asserted.  In fact, it could be crystal clear!

Hospitals cannot hire certain employees who have misconduct on their record which may affect patient health and safety.  This is a slippery slope due to employment law and the ADA.  But if a hospital hires an employee who has been convicted multiple times of abusing patients, it would be negligent to hire this employee to work with patients—especially alone!  In that instance a hospital would be perfectly permitted to reject the employee’s application.

But when that hospital does NOT reject that employee’s application because it is in dire need of hiring, any injuries caused by that employee may be imputed on the hospital.  This can be achieved from respondeat superior, which may make it hard to collect if insurance disclaims, but that could also be achieved through the negligence of the hospital itself in hiring the employee.  This means the negligence of actually causing the injuries.

But what do you think about patient abuse in New York?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at