Medical Malpractice and Respondeat Superior Article Review

Excerpt from Article Review :

Mitchell. The left arm of the child had to be amputated because of the unsuccessful vascular operation. According to the court session, there was a question to be answered in relation to the agency theory in determining the role of Dr. Williams in this encounter (Tenn Ct App 1970).

The article also focuses on reviewing the case of Edmands v. Chamberlain Memorial Hospital in the context of 1978. The case was against the hospital following the death of the plaintiff's husband having been taken to the emergency department of the hospital. Following deterioration of the health conditions, the patient was taken to the hospital the next day, which resulted into execution of an emergency surgery. Plaintiff's husband died in the course of the operation. According to the hospital, Dr. Loftis was never an employee to the institution, but a staff physician (Tenn Ct App 1937). The court stated the presence of negligent acts of the agents and employees of the hospital during this encounter. One of the findings of the court was the presence of the agency theory as an element of disputed issue in determining whether the doctor as an agent of the hospital or not as he executed the operation on the plaintiff's husband.

The article also focuses on the description of the case of Bass v. Barksdale. In this case, there was a medical malpractice action brought to the court against the nurse and physician working in the context of Metropolitan Public Health Clinic. This is because of the blindness consequence to Mrs. Bass following the encounter with the drugs prescribed for the management and treatment of tuberculosis. Nurse Barksdale was an employee to the institution being in charge of the TB health clinic (Judith & William, 2000). Her role was writing the prescription signed by another employee in the clinic in the form of Dr. Quinn. According to Dr. Quinn, he signed the prescriptions towards the treatment of tuberculosis without having any encounter with Mrs. Bass.

According to the court, there was nothing on the records, which could relate to the vicarious liability. The two personnel were employees of the named hospital. It is also essential to note that Dr. Quinn was the supervisor rather than employer to Mrs. Bass. This is an indication that Dr. Quinn was the intermediate superior employee of the nurse thus not liable for any negligent actions in relation to omission of the duties by the nurse. This statement is only exceptional in case of personal negligence in relation to the command for efficient and co-efficient cause of the injury. According to the court, the doctor should not be held along with the employer with reference to the constructive liability (Judith & William, 2000). Despite these findings, the court unveiled that Dr. Quinn failed to exercise the duty of supervision to the nurse's interaction and treatment of the patient thus an act of negligence contributing to the malpractice in the service delivery.

The other critical case in this review is the case between Tutton v. Patterson against an obstetrician in relation to the sponge found in the body of a patient several months following a cesarean section during the delivery of a healthy baby boy. The consequence of this surgery was the desperate illness of the patient thus the need for the abdominal surgery as well as elimination or removal of majority of the intestines. In this case, the court found no sufficient evidence in determining the physician negligent for the sponge in the patient's abdomen (Judith & William, 2000).

Finally, the article also focuses on the illustration of the Shirley J. Dannenhold v. Knoxville Pathology Group PC. In this case, the medical malpractice action was sought in relation to aspect of misreading of the 1993 Pap smear thus the contraction of terminal cancer. The plaintiff raised various issues with reference to the agent or the borrowed servant of the pathologist in the form of cytotechnologist in misreading the Pap smear slide thus provision of the negative report. According to the findings of the Court of Appeals, there was a basis for the issue thus the application of the vicarious liability (Judith & William, 2000).

The intended audiences in relation to the development of the article include the patients, nurses, doctors, health institutions, and various medical practitioners with reference to provision of quality services and products to the consumers of the products. This is because of the tendency of malpractices in the context of medical profession unlike in other professions like law and accountancy. The intended audiences need to understand the influence of the Doctrine of Respondeat Superior in determining the basis of any malpractice in the health institution or by any medical practitioners.

In this article, the authors present Respondeat Superior as a positive concept towards minimization of the concept of malpractice in the medical profession. This is because of the ability to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of the health centers and employers in relation to the provision of services and products to the consumers in this case the patients. The article offers a critical examination of the previous and current cases with reference to the doctrine of Respondeat Superior with the aim of offering favorable treatment to the consumers (patients). The health or medical centers must be accountable for their roles and obligations in providing quality healthcare to the patients at the time of need. The article is also effective in illustration of the positive essence of Respondeat Superior as it seeks to address the rights of the patients while fighting the element of negligent in the actions by the doctors and nurses. In the process of the provision of health services and products, the employees of any health organization have the obligation of adhering to the standards of the employer. This is expressed in the article thus the integration of positive approach by the authors in the development of this effective and adequate article in relation to examining the concept of Respondeat Superior. The article depicts various aspects of negligence by medical practitioners as they offer critical services to the consumers/patients. This is positively addressed by the doctrine through diverse court cases.

It is logical to judge an employer for the actions of an employee in case of the existence of the relationship between the two entities (employee-employer relationship). The existence of this relationship between the employer and the employee depends of various factors. Primarily, this relationship depends on the right of control the employer has over the employee. The right of control at issue relates to the right to control all details and manner of work executed by the relevant employee. In examining this control issues, it is ideal to focus on whether the employer has adequate right to control the employee in executing the issues required. For instance, in the context of health care issues, the focus is usually on the ability of the employer to control the role of the employee in providing evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment services to the patients within the health sector. If this relationship between the employer and the employee can be determined through the relevant factors, it is ideal and logical to hold the employer responsible for the actions of the employers as they execute the duties and obligations. If there is no right of control, thus the employer experiences independent contract relationship with the employer, it is not logical to implement the doctrine of Respondeat Superior. This is an indication that the doctrine should be applicable in selection because of the relationship between the employer and the employee.


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Parker v Vanderbilt University, 767 SW2d 412,414 (Tenn Ct App 1988)

Meadows v Patterson, 109 SW2d 417,419,429 (Tenn Ct App 1937)

Rural Educational Association v Bush, 298 SW2d 761-766 (Tenn Ct App 1956)

French v Fischer, 362 SW2d 926 (Tenn Ct App 1962)

McCay V Mitchell, 463 SW2d 710 (Tenn Ct…

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