ARTICLE: WHEN DOCTRINES COLLIDE: CORPORATE NEGLIGENCE AND RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR WHEN HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES FAIL TO SPEAK UP. * Skip over navigation
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Copyright Tulane University 1986.

Tulane Law Review

ARTICLE: WHEN DOCTRINES COLLIDE: CORPORATE NEGLIGENCE AND RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR WHEN HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES FAIL TO SPEAK UP. *



* Thanks to Helen Adkins for untiring cheerfulness and accuracy in processing most of these words ten times over.

November, 1986

Tulane Law Review

61 Tul. L. Rev. 85

Author

I. TROTTER HARDY, JR. **

Excerpt

I. Introduction

A hospitalized patient injured by the negligence of a nurse 1 can bring suit against the hospital because the nurse is a hospital employee. A hospitalized patient injured by the negligence of a private physician cannot bring suit against the hospital because the physician is not a hospital employee. Can a patient sue the hospital when a nurse is negligent, if at all, only for not speaking up about a private physician's negligence? Courts have given this question a variety of answers over the last fifty years, few of them satisfactory, and some of them simply wrong. The question is vexing precisely because it arises at the intersection of two separate lines of cases against hospitals, both based on the theory of respondeat superior.

Simple cases of nursing negligence, without the complication of a physician's mistake, form the first line; they rarely pose problems for courts today. With a few exceptions, 2 all jurisdictions allow suits against hospitals based on respondeat superior in this situation, as long as governmental and charitable immunities are not in issue. 3 Examples of nursing negligence for which the employing hospital can be held liable include not checking a patient's transfusion needle often enough, 4 improperly moving a patient so that a recent incision is re-opened, 5 and using the wrong type of hypodermic needle for an injection. 6

For years, however, in a second line of case courts resolutely denied the liability of hospitals on a respondeat superior ...
 
 
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