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Legal Aspects of Health Care: Vicarious Liability

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Criminal liability involves all federal state or local law that deals with crime and punishments. Criminal liability are either felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are criminal offenses that require incarceration for more than a year or have fines in excess of $1000. The courts can also give a combination of a fine and incarceration for the felony charge. There have been cases that resulted in a felony conviction for health-care professionals. A health care professional who is convicted of a felony is subject to losing any license that they may hold for their profession. Misdemeanors are more common with health care professionals than felonies. Criminal negligent manslaughter, failure to report injuries, or illnesses, failure to provide emergency services, insurance fraud are all common misdemeanors carried out by health care professionals.

Negligent liabilities are acts that were not intended to do harm but caused damage to a person or property. Negligence is when there is a failure to provide the expected standard of care and malpractice are usually unintentional torts. In my current health care field Radiographer a survey was done to determine the amount of radiology related law suits. The survey revealed that of the 415 radiology related lawsuits, 88% were related to Staff; 24% of these were badly performed exams and 11% occurred due to patient falls. I myself experienced a patient falling when I was a student. The patient was elderly and could have very easily fractured a hip. The experience stayed with me so that I have not had that happen to a patient of mine since. Radiologists were recorded at 12 percent for failure to diagnose a condition.

Respondeat Superior simple translates to "let the master answer" this is also known as the Apparent Agency doctrine. This term is legal doctrine that holds the employer responsible for their employee's negligence. The master applies even for independent contractors such as anesthesiologist. Any time an employer has the right to supervise job related task, pay wages and relieve an employee the employer can be held liable for negligence. For this doctrine to apply their must be an employer-employee relationship and the employee must function under the authority of the employer.

Hospital employers must have a full realization of their legal responsibility to all of their employees including independent contractors.


David, T. A. (2006, 11 1). All Business. Hospital Law's Regan Report . Retrieved 1 Dec 2008

Wilson, B. G. (1997). Ethics and Basic Law for Medical Imaging Professionals. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.



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