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Notable medical topic: using independent contractors in surgery

Although the following subject matter is based on an unfortunate outcome that occurred at a medical facility and can thus be reasonably categorized as a news-based event, it can also be meaningfully seen in a larger sense as a medical industry topic of broad scope.

That is how we look at it today, given its clear implications for patients across the country. Although what we relate here took place in a Massachusetts hospital, its relevance is manifestly clear in Texas and everywhere else across the country.

Following is a nutshell version of a story we think will give readers pause and make them reflect hard on medical care.

A woman had surgery. Her anesthesiologist made a material error during the operation, which paralyzed the patient. The anesthesiologist -- despite being identified as the surgical center's anesthesiology chief and wearing a hospital coat with his name-- turned out be an outsourced employee, that is, an independent contractor.

The patient did not know that and, in the lawsuit she filed for damages, stated that the doctor's affiliation was important to her. She told a court that, had she known the doctor's true status, she would not have consented to surgery.

Using independent contractors in the medical sphere is an interesting phenomenon, especially when -- as noted in a recent media article discussing outsourced medical workers and liability concerns -- a hospital is "trying to lessen or avoid [malpractice insurance] and liability for any negligence that may result from an outsourced doctor's work."

Should hospitals be allowed to do that?

It is an interesting question, and one that we think many of our readers might reflect upon, especially considering that an independent contractor might be carrying an inadequate amount of insurance coverage.

In the above-cited case, the judge in the plaintiff's lawsuit denied the hospital's motion to dismiss the litigation. The court stated that the woman could sue the hospital based on the fact that the anesthesiologist had apparent authority, even if he wasn't a hospital employee. Consultation service from the Maloney Lawyers is free. Contact us today to get started.

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