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Can hospitals be held civilly liable for damage caused by doctors?

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By DAC Beachcroft


Published 29 September 2021


The responsibility of the health professional is direct, because it is this one who, derived from the care provided to a patient, can cause damage, producing what we know as subjective responsibility. However, the Hospital that provides the medical service may be objectively responsible for the use of the equipment it provides to the health professional to carry out the medical care, as well as for the medical personnel involved in the provision of the service (stretcher bearers, nurses, etc...).

In addition to this, if the health professional is a subordinate worker of the Hospital, the establishment is responsible for the actions of his subordinate.

In short, although responsibility arises from an act or fact that may be unlawful or culpable, there are criteria that establish solidarity in responsibility with the establishment where health services are provided.

This affirmation will depend on the degree of interference that the establishment has had to be fined a responsibility. As an example, this could be a Hospital that does not have an adequate confinement and isolation area to deal with the issues derived from the pandemic; if it can be proved that as a result of the failed distancing policy, a patient contracted the virus and therefore is in a life-threatening situation; both the health professional and the establishment could be considered simultaneously and severally liable.