“Corporate Negligence”

A friend who is getting ready to file a medical negligence case told me that his medical consultant said this about the case: “It took a whole group of doctors to kill this woman.”

The consultant was not suggesting that the doctors conspired to hurt, much less “kill”, the patient. His point was that in a hospital setting the cause of an injury or death is often not the fault of one person. In the ordinary course, one person makes an error and someone else catchs it before harm is done. No, where things really get messed up is when a group of people is having a bad time of it, where balls are flying all over the place and nobody has a catcher’s mitt or is even aware that the balls are flying around. Simply put, awareness is off, communication breaks down and people get hurt.

The adoption of proper systems can usually prevent these situations from occurring. Indeed, this is one of the reasons behind Vanderbilt’s Evidence-Based Medicine Program that I talked about recently.

Apparently, someone recognized this situation in a case in Pennsylvania and filed a “corporate negligence” claim against a hospital. The trial judge threw it out but the Superior Court of the state sitting en banc reversed and remanded. Read about the case here.