Respondeat Superior Article Review

Pages: 10 (2917 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Health - Nursing

¶ … Medical Malpractice and Respondeat Superior (by Judith J. Regan and William M. Regan)

According to Judith and William (2002), the legal concept of vicarious liability and the doctrine of Respondeat Superior occur when an employee commits a tort or element of civil wrong with reference to the employment scope and employer thus holding the master liable. This occurs despite the fact the master might have done nothing wrong. The main objective of the article is to present and analyze legal cases with the aim of enhancing the importance of the issues frequently involving physician extenders and as employers in relation to the current health care climate. It is ideal to note that the physicians need to understand elements of the Respondeat Superior doctrine in the process of supervising their staff and implementation of the daily medical practices (Judith & William, 2000).

The article also offers a critical definition of the concept of malpractice in the context of the medical field as the failure by practitioners to offer professional services with the skill usually exhibited by responsible and careful members of the medical profession. This tendency results into injury, loss, or damage to the party contracting for the critical services. Despite the fact that lawyers and accountants as well as other professionals can be charged with malpractice, the term is mainly associate with the medical practitioners. Respondeat Superior as a doctrine is essential in examining the relationship between malpractice and agency. Negligence is one of the essences resulting into malpractices in the context of the medical agencies and practitioners (Judith & William, 2000).

According to the article, a master or employer is liable to his servants' negligence with reference to the Tennessee law in accordance with regulations in most states. This is under the influence of the doctrine of Respondeat Superior in relation to the principle "that the wrong of the agent is the wrong of his employer" (5). The doctrine of Respondeat Superior has been essential in determining the level of negligence in service delivery by medical providers and practitioners. According to the Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-115 (1980), to hold a doctor or other provider liable individually for the contempt of malpractice, he or she has the obligation to show with competent testimony the standard of care, deviation from the standard, and proximate result of the negligent act (Judith & William, 2000).

The article focuses on the presentation of the Tennessee cases with the aim of offering adequate understanding of the concept of Doctrine of Respondeat Superior in the case of the United States in relation to determination of the essence of malpractice by medical practitioners. These are the main questions in relation to the doctrine of Respondeat Superior. In order to understand the concept of Respondeat Superior and its influences in relation to malpractice actions against health care agencies and providers in the case of Tennessee, the authors of this article sought to focus on the past and current court decisions in the state.

The first concept of the cases is the aspect of the Meadow v. Patterson's Case (Tenn Ct App 1937). In this case, Dr. Patterson executed an appendectomy on Mr. Meadows. Following the successful operation, the defendant had to be left under the care of the experienced and graduate nurse in the form of Miss Nipper. After regaining his consciousness the next morning, the defendant discovered an injury in his eye. This follows an encounter with his fingernail. The plaintiff took the doctor to court claiming that he was under the care and control of the control during the night (Tenn Ct App 1937). According to the ruling by the court in this case, a hospital nurse is under the special supervision and control during the operation process and the relation of master and servants exists during the course of the operation. This is an indication that surgeon is supposed to be responsible for any negligence of the nurse. Despite this ruling, the court ascertained that the surgeon is not responsible for the negligent aspect by the nurse in after treatment of the patient following the operation in the absence of special contract. This is only exceptional in case the surgeon expresses control and direction of the nurse in relation to the completion of the operation process within the aspect of the medical providers.

Another critical component of the article focuses on the expression of the concept of Rural Educational Association v. Bush (Tenn Ct App 1956). In this case, the defendant is alleged to have executed an operation within the hospital in which the plaintiff was admitted for the examination and treatment purposes. It is ideal to note the essence of various physicians on the resident staff in relation to the hospital. According to the doctors, the plaintiff has mastoiditis thus recommended an operation which the plaintiff accepted. Following successful management and treatment of mastoiditis through operation, there was further indication of operation in the abdomen (Tenn Ct App 1956). Dr. Schuler as the defendant offered the surgery rooms for the operations because of his ability to offer furnishing to all personnel and facilities during the encounter.

Among the attendants during the operations were the nurse and anesthetist. This is because of being the servants and employees of Dr. Schuler, as the defendant. The plaintiff did not recover according to the expectations following the surgery on the abdomen. The outcome of the process was eventual or desperate sickness. This led to the plaintiff being sent to the surgery thus the disclosure of the operation as a gangrenous intestine under the influence of the sponge left in the intestine. According to the findings of the court, the nurse was the agent of the defendant hospital rather than the doctor. The court stated that when a nurse operates under the directives of a private physician in relation to matters relating to the professional skills and decision, he or she is absolved from liability for her actions (Tenn Ct App 1956). Despite this notion, it is ideal to note that various actions by nurses are not related to the orders of the physician. The court also stated that the role of the hospital include effective furnishing of personnel and equipment. This is an indication that proper sponges should be selected by the hospital as one of the essential duties. The defendant of the hospital relied upon the sponge count of the nurse during the execution of the operation.

The third critical case in this article relates to French v. Fischer case in 1959. According to the case, Rebecca, born May 2, 1959 at Methodist Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee experienced severe vomiting attacks (Tenn Ct App 1962). Dr. Allen was called by Rebecca's parents who diagnosed the baby's condition as pyloric stenosis thus the need for the operation in order to management and offer treatment to the condition. As the operation was taking place, the doctor sent the circulating nurse out of the operating room. This contributed to inability of the nurse to complete her obligations and duties because of having gone for most of time during the operation.

The nurse made a mistake by leaving one of the sponges from the incision. In the same year, Rebecca was admitted to the hospital for the problems. Critical examination revealed the presence of the sponge in the abdomen thus the need to remove two third of the remaining intestine (Tenn Ct App 1962). This encounter made her parents to file suit in relation. In determining the case, the court indicated that the counting of the sponge was an administrative function rather than the contribution of the control of the surgeon over the operation process because of the aspect of Tennessee to follow the cases. Despite this statement, the court found aspects of negligence from the actions of the doctor and the scrub nurse. This led to holding of the doctor for personal negligence while the scrub nurse subjected the Baptist Memorial Hospital to same liability under the influence of negligence.

Another major scope of the article is the case of McCay v. Mitchell. This case relates to malpractice action because of the child who lost a portion of her left arm following the injury on a swing (Tenn Ct App 1970). Dr. Mitchell as the orthopedic surgeon in the case diagnosed a compound fracture of both bones on the left forearm thus the concept of reducing and closing the fracture through application of a splint and cast. After leaving the health center, the child started feeling pain that led to contacting of Dr. Mitchell by the parents. This encounter was not successful because of the doctor could not be reached (Tenn Ct App 1970). Dr. Williams was in his place.

The doctor had the opportunity to see the child and removed the cast. Dr. Williams decided to replace the cast following the encounter with the child. The next day, the child had to the report to the hospital for the similar problems, but was seen by Dr. Mitchell.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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