Medical malpractice is a special tort claim involving the professional negligence of licensed healthcare providers. To prevail in a medical malpractice action in Michigan, a plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) Duty, (2) Breach, (3) Causation, and (4) Damages.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities may be vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their nurses, aides, physician employees, residents, interns, and other personnel employed by the facility to render care to patients. The standard of care of hospital staff to a patient is “reasonable care and attention for their safety as their mental and physical condition may require.”

A hospital is not typically vicariously liable for physicians acting as an independent contractor who uses the facility to provide care and treatment. There are certain circumstances, however, where a physician may be found to be an agent of the hospital. Grewe v. Mount Clemens Gen. Hosp, established that, to analyze whether the physician is an employee or agent of the hospital, it must be considered “if the individual looked to the hospital to provide him with medical treatment and there has been a representation by the hospital that medical treatment would be afforded by physicians working therein.”

The “critical question” is whether the patient, at the time of admission, “was looking to the hospital for treatment of his physical ailments or merely viewed the hospital as the situs where his physician would treat him for his problems.” One factor in determining the same is whether the hospital provided the patient with a physician or if the physician had a patient-physician relationship outside of the hospital. Another question is whether the hospital did something to create a reasonable belief in Plaintiff’s mind that a doctor was acting on behalf of the hospital.

Overall, an agency is ostensible when the principal intentionally, or by want of ordinary care, causes a third person to believe another to be his agent who is not really employed by him.

This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.