“Issues In Today’s Medical Malpractice Litigation Employees, Agents, and More – Claims of Hospital Liability for Physician Conduct”
By: Walter Price, Martha Thompson and Jennifer “JD” Segers
Alabama Defense Lawyers Association Journal
Traditionally, physicians have not been employees of the hospital; rather, they actually have been independent contractors with staff privileges giving them the ability to treat patients at that given facility. Thus, traditional medical malpractice cases have involved claims against a physician for the decisions he or she made relative to the care provided and then against the hospital for care provided the hospital’s employees, i.e., the nursing staff. Recent trends have plaintiffs not only seeking to impose liability against the individual physicians for their own actions but also seeking to impose liability against the hospital for the actions of that physician, especially in cases where the plaintiff cannot arguably support a separate claim against the nursing staff.
The Alabama Medical Liability Act governs all claims for injury or damages against healthcare providers. This includes those claims related to the hiring, training and supervision of individual healthcare providers. See Ala. Code § 6-5-551 (1975). Accordingly, hospitals, clinics, medical practices, etc. are all healthcare providers under the Alabama Medical Liability Act; and, therefore, they are considered to be healthcare providers which can be found liable to a plaintiff under a theory of corporate negligence.
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