When Does a Doctor Work for a Hospital?

Pursuing a medical negligence or malpractice claim can be challenging enough at the best of times, but this can be even harder depending on the precise healthcare institution that you’re dealing with.

For example, doctors and physicians working in hospitals aren’t always operating as direct employees, and their relatively complex working arrangements can create issues when looking to prove liability and seek compensation.

We’ll explore this below, while asking how you can pursue a claim quickly, efficiently and with the minimum of fuss.

How Do Doctors Work?

The term ‘hospital employee’ can be applied to anyone who works directly for the hospital or relevant healthcare trust.

For doctors in this scenario, the compensation for their work is reflected on the payroll records of   a hospital, while any instances of medical negligence in this case can be brought directly against the employer.

However, many doctors in hospitals operate on independent or freelance contractors, enabling them to work for different healthcare providers and negating the need to be employed directly by a hospital trust or surgery.

In this case, doctors have an agreement to use a hospital’s facilities, but their pay structure and remuneration is completely different. Similarly, they have a different level of accountability to employees, meaning that the hospital may not be liable for any accident or injury that occurs.

Outside of hospitals, many GPS work in this way, creating a scenario where they’re technically self-employed and run their own business venture.

This is something that the government in the UK is looking to change, of course, partly because of the need to create accountability in the case of medical negligence or malpractice. So, there’s a concerted effort to boost the number of GPs taking direct salaries, in order to help protect patients and make the legal claiming process much easier.

Can I Sue the Hospital?

Regardless of your circumstances, your first port of call when dealing with an instance of medical negligence or malpractice should be to liaise with a qualified and specialist solicitor.

After all, you’ll have three years from the date that your injury can be linked to a treatment or surgical error in which to make your claim. So, you’ll need some help to determine and prove the viability of your claim, particularly if you were injured or harmed by a doctor who works on a self-employed basis.

In terms of demonstrating harm, you’ll need help to prove that your injuries or ailments were caused directly as a result of medical negligence. In order to succeed in your medical negligence claim you must be able to prove:

  1. That you were owed a duty of care from the defendant
  2. There was a breach of that duty
  3. Causation

When it comes to proving causation, it is not often that straightforward. One reason for this is that we are looking at the hypothetical question of what would have happened had there not been a breach of duty. Many medical negligence cases also involve Claimants who were ill before the treatment and therefore proving causation can be complex.

Proving causation can be done two different ways, to prove you would not have suffered the injury if it were not for the negligence of the medical professional on the balance of probabilities and also to prove the medical negligence made a real contribution to the injury.

So, while this term covers mistakes that were accidental in nature, they may have had a direct impact that is demonstrable and capable of being provided in or out of court.

In some cases, however, the mistake may be deemed reasonable or within the boundaries of acceptability, meaning that you won’t be able to pursue any kind of compensation claim.

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