CASE NOTE: HOSPITAL LIABILITY FOR PHYSICIANS' NEGLIGENCE: GIBERT v. FRANK (SYCAMORE MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL) Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1993 The Journal of Pharmacy & Law
The Journal of Pharmacy & Law

CASE NOTE: HOSPITAL LIABILITY FOR PHYSICIANS' NEGLIGENCE: GIBERT v. FRANK (SYCAMORE MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL)

1993

2 J. Pharmacy & Law 407

Author

Jacklyn M. Penna

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

The verdict in this case 1 concerns the relationship between doctors and hospitals and how the theories of agency have slowly evolved into present day litigation. Hospitals used to be similar to modern nursing homes where they fed and housed patients while doctors rendered medical treatment. 2 As a result, physicians were not originally employed by hospitals. 3 They were independent contractors who arranged to use hospital facilities for their patients. 4 Since physicians were not employees of the hospitals, hospitals were typically found not liable for their negligence. 5 This occurred because the doctrine of respondeat superior was not imposed 6 and because of the fact that hospitals were considered to be charitable institutions. 7

Respondeat superior holds an employer liable for his employee's torts if such torts are within the scope of his employment. 8 This doctrine was not imposed because physicians were held to be independent contractors. Courts reasoned that "the medical profession requires such a high level of skill and specialization that a hospital administrator could not easily control a physician's discretionary acts." 9 Also, the negligent act or omission had to have been medically related for courts to impose respondeat superior, since a hospital's function was to supply professionals who were responsible for the treatment. 10 Determining if an act was medical rather than administrative became increasingly difficult for courts to distinguish and eventually led to the "scope of employment" standard that is now used in assessing the liability ...
 
 
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