In a Maryland malpractice case, a plaintiff may be able to bring a suit against a provider’s employer under the doctrine of respondeat superior, or vicarious liability. Vicarious liability allows an employer to be held liable for the acts of its employees, even without any fault on the part of the employer. Rather, the employer may be held liable based solely only on the employer-employee relationship. Generally, an employer may be held liable for the wrongful acts of an employee if the employee is acting in the scope of their employment. The doctrine is intended to hold employers accountable and because many times they can bear the financial burden better than an individual employee.
A state court recently heard a medical malpractice case involving the alleged vicarious liability of two different employers. In that case, the plaintiff underwent laparoscopic abdominal surgery at a hospital. She was admitted to the hospital after the surgery and her condition deteriorated. A second surgery was conducted, during which time they discovered a perforation in the plaintiff’s small bowel. She suffered catastrophic injuries that required her to undergo multiple surgeries and to be hospitalized for five months.
The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon, the hospital, and the university that employed the surgeon. The plaintiff argued that the surgeon had perforated her small bowel during the first surgery, and that the staff failed to timely diagnose her condition and begin treatment. The university argued that the surgeon did not deviate from the standard of care during the surgery. It also argued that even if the surgeon did deviate from the standard of care, the plaintiff’s injuries were a result of the hospital staff’s failure to timely administer antibiotics.