Occasionally, patients suffer injuries as a result of medical malpractice, when a healthcare provider acts negligently causing harm or death. In many cases, a doctor’s mistake or a nurse’s error is unforeseen and unpredictable. But what if a hospital, medical office, nursing home, or health system knew of their history of poor performance and questionable skills when hiring or granting privileges? If the employer knew or should have known of their incompetence, an injured patient or the family of a deceased loved one may be able to hold the employer liable for negligent hiring.

Medical Malpractice: Distinguishing Accident from Negligence

Medical technology and the skill of medical professionals have improved by leaps and bounds over the years. While it’s impossible to achieve a positive outcome for a patient in every situation, sometimes medical professionals do not fulfill their professional duty of care, which results in patient injuries.

To prove malpractice, or “medical negligence,” an individual must show that a physician, nurse, or other medical professional acted negligently in providing care and caused the individual’s injury.

The four legal elements of medical malpractice a plaintiff must show are:

  1. A professional owed a duty to the patient.
  2. The professional acted or failed to act in a way that breached that duty.
  3. A patient suffered an injury as a result of the breach.
  4. The patient suffered damages.

Damages can include actual economic loss (the costs of medical bills, reduction in earning capacity, etc.) and noneconomic loss (like pain and suffering). Typically, a plaintiff must produce factual evidence of their injuries and present expert testimony establishing the standard of care and showing that the actions of the nurse, doctor, or medical professional violated that standard. 

What Is Negligent Hiring?

Like many other states, Michigan recognizes a plaintiff’s legal right to sue an employer for negligent hiring of an employee. In general, the standard for proving a negligent hiring claim in Michigan requires a plaintiff to show both:

  • Evidence “of the appropriate standard for hiring, retaining, or supervising” the relevant class of employee.
  • Evidence demonstrating that the employer knew or should have known of the employee’s incompetence or propensity to engage in the conduct at issue.

In a medical malpractice case, this may include evidence that a hospital or healthcare provider failed to take appropriate and reasonable steps to determine a medical professional’s qualifications, verify past employment, check references, explore previous medical malpractice claims or disciplinary complaints, or take other reasonable or usual measures the medical community makes when hiring. Discovering these facts and retaining qualified experts is crucial to prove a negligent hiring case successfully.

Hiring a medical professional is different from granting a doctor staff privileges. The latter is a process of credentialing that is mostly privileged from outside review. As such, it can be difficult to establish a claim of negligent credentialing.

Proving a Negligent Hiring or Medical Malpractice Claim

Pursuing a claim for medical malpractice or negligent hiring can be challenging. An experienced, skillful medical malpractice attorney will analyze the facts of your case and examine your claims. They will help you understand your options for pursuing compensation against your doctor, nurse, hospital, or other medical provider and partner with you to take whatever action is best for your situation. Don’t wait—contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case today.