Need Legal Help? Call 215.925.4451

Pennsylvania Hospital Medical Malpractice Law – Theories of Negligence Against Hospitals

Phil Blackman-Pennsylvania New Jersey Personal Injury LawyerPublished on behalf of Philip Blackman, an experienced personal injury lawyer who has devoted his entire career to helping individuals and families who have been injured due to medical malpractice, car accidents, fall accidents and more. FREE Consultations: 215.925.4451

Hospital negligence is an unfortunate reality. Every day, thousands of patients trust the care and treatment they receive at a hospital. However, many of those patients will suffer hospital malpractice which results in severe harm or even death.

The laws of Pennsylvania permit negligence claims against hospitals and emergency rooms in situations where a patient receives below standard medical care which results in harm or damage. A common scenario involves a hospital where wrong medication is given to a patient. Another common scenario involves a resident who performs a surgery and makes a mistake.

Pennsylvania Hospital Malpractice – Types of Hospital Negligence

Under Pennsylvania law, there are two main theories of negligence or causes of action which may be pursued against hospitals: corporate negligence and vicarious liability. In most hospital malpractice lawsuits, both theories will be at issue.

The first theory is based on the hospital’s actions or inactions. The patient does not need to prove the negligence of a doctor or nurse to establish this theory. Instead, for example, a hospital’s failure to have a proper procedure or protocol in place or otherwise violating the patient’s rights forms the basis for a theory of corporate negligence. In order to prevail, the plaintiff-patient must prove that the hospital had actual or constructive notice of the defect or procedure which created the harm or damage. Basically, the patient has to show that the hospital either knew or should have known about the issue.

A theory of vicarious liability, on the other hand, involves a hospital employee’s negligence. In other words, the hospital is held liable for the negligent acts of its staff, such as a nurse or doctor. For example, a hospital may be liable in a situation where a nurse or other staff member fails to report a change in a patient’s condition, which results in some harm to the patient.

To succeed in pursuing a corporate negligence claim or a vicarious liability claim against a Pennsylvania hospital, it will be necessary to have the case reviewed by a hospital expert who will review the hospital records and determine whether the hospital was negligent. It is very important to seek legal advice from an experienced Pennsylvania hospital and emergency room malpractice attorney as soon as possible. The statute of limitations is often at issue in medical malpractice cases.

Related Legal Articles:

For more information, contact our Pennsylvania hospital emergency room lawyers at 215.925.4451. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation.

The lawyers at Schwartz & Blackman handle hospital malpractice cases in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:

  • PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
  • NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities

*This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is important to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Published: July 11, 2012

Medical malpractice Law Library

Philadelphia Emergency Room Mistakes – Too Common and Not Always Revealed

Medical malpractice in emergency rooms, hospitals, and doctors' offices happens every day. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. A great piece of advice for young lawyers who are just starting out - it's a given that you're going to make mistakes; it's what you...

The Statute of Limitations in a Pennsylvania Hospital & Emergency Room Malpractice Case

The application of the statute of limitations is one of the most critical issues in a potential hospital malpractice case. Whether a case is time-barred by the statute of limitations is a very fact intensive question that requires analysis of all relevant medical...

HB 2299 Would Harm Pennsylvania’s Most Vulnerable Citizens

Right now, House Bill 2299 is being considered in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. If passed, it would change the rights of people who receive substandard medical care in hospital emergency rooms or clinics in Pennsylvania. One of the reasons cited for...

Hospital Malpractice – The Emergence of New Problems with Information Systems

Increases in technology have made hospital care much easier and efficient. Ideally, patient information can be sent and received much faster than ten or even five years ago. Electronic medical records (EMRs), tracking tags, badges, electronic medication administration...

Failure to Implement Proper Procedures Leads to Hospital & Emergency Room Mistakes

There is a strong public perception that hospital deaths caused by malpractice are less than in reality. According to the Institute of Medicine, at least 44,000, and as many as 98,000 people die each year as a result of preventable hospital errors. In 2002, a study...



    *No attorney-client relationship is created by use of this email form. Do not email confidential or time-sensitive information. Call the firm for immediate assistance.


    Pennsylvania Office
    The Pavilion
    261 Old York Rd., Suite 504
    Jenkintown, PA 19046
    Tel: (215) 925-4451
    Fax: (215) 574-1200

    New Jersey Office
    1415 Route 70 East
    Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
    Tel: (856) 427-0614
    Fax: (856) 424-3690