What Happens if an Intern or Resident Makes an Error?

intern negligenceMedical errors can happen – especially when the individual committing the error just became a doctor. Because teaching hospitals are located in just about every state (with some states having multiple teaching hospitals), it is not uncommon for interns (“first year doctors) or residents (second year doctors)  to commit serious errors while administering care to a patient. In St. Louis, there are several leading teaching hospitals and clinics that help create the doctors of the future – but during this hands-on training, when an intern or resident makes an error that injures a patient, who is responsible for those actions?

Are Interns or Residents Liable for Malpractice Injuries?

There is a potential for medical malpractice for anyone practicing in the healthcare field – this includes nurses, physicians, surgeons, specialists, pharmacists, trainees, and interns and residents who are doctors in training.

Most teaching hospitals are renowned in the state for providing excellent care – sometimes, they are even better than private or non-teaching hospitals. But, when a hospital uses interns and residents to provide medical care,  it is increasing its liability and, therefore, must take special steps to limit its liability and avoid injury to its patients. Because teaching hospitals deal with a heavy fluctuation of new doctors, almost all who start in the first week of July every year they are more likely to commit  critical errors.

One of the most common reasons for malpractice in teaching hospitals is a lack of, or negligent, supervision. Interns and residents are not allowed to make medical decisions or administer care without the direct supervision of a licensed attending physician. This physician must be experienced in the field that he or she is training the intern and resident. While in theory this should work out, the reality is that hospitals are overburdened with patients. This forces licensed doctors to give the interns who the day before may have been a medical sudent more leeway and less supervision, so that doctors can attend to the high volume of patients under their purview.

When interns and residents are not adequately monitored, the risk for injury or fatal error will increase.

Intern and Resident Errors Often Result in Vicarious Liability Claims

When interns and residents commit errors, the attending physician overseeing their work is typically considered liable for their actions. However, the hospital can also be found liable for the errors of the interns and residents  under vicarious  liability. In most cases, medical students and interns are considered part of the hospital staff. Therefore, the hospital is liable for the actions of its staff.

Speak with a St. Louis Medical Malpractice Attorney Regarding Your Case

If you or a loved one was seriously injured because of the errors committed by an intern or resident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the malpractice attorney team at Carey, Danis & Lowe Attorneys at Law today. We offer free consultations, so you can schedule yours now at 877-678-3400, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions and someone will be in touch with you shortly.