Court Finds Doctor's Previous Employer Doesn't Owe Duty to Future Patients

October 10, 2014

In a truly disturbing case out of Massachusetts, a court determined that a doctor's previous place of employment does not owe any duty to future patients of that doctor after he leaves the place of employment.

usg-1-262481-m.jpgIn the case Roe No. 1 v. Children's Hosp. Med. Ctr., a doctor was accused of performing unnecessary genital examinations on young children. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit named one of the hospitals that the doctor used to work at in the suit, alleging that the hospital should have reported the doctor to licensing agencies after accusations arose that he was sexually abusing child patients. However, the court determined that because all of the alleged conduct in the current lawsuit took place after the doctor had left the defendant hospital, the defendant hospital didn't owe any duty of care to the future patients of the doctor.

The Facts of the Case
The doctor at issue was employed by a Massachusetts hospital between the years of 1966 and 1985. After 1985, the doctor moved to North Carolina, where the facts that gave rise to this case occurred.

Evidently, the doctor was discovered to have conducted several unnecessary genital exams on young patients. The parents of these patients brought suit against the Massachusetts hospital. (They also may have brought suit against the North Carolina hospital, although that was not at issue in this case). The parents claimed that there was evidence that the doctor was abusive to his patients while he was employed by the Massachusetts hospital, but the hospital didn't do anything to get the doctor's license revoked. This allowed him to practice medicine in the future and eventually led to him molesting additional patients.

However, that is not how the court saw it. The court explained that because all of the plaintiffs in the case received care in North Carolina, rather than in the Massachusetts hospital, they were not owed a duty by the doctor's former employer.

The court did note, however, that the Massachusetts hospital would be liable had the abuse taken place at its facility. However, the court was unwilling to expand the duty of employers to cover future places of employment for former workers.

Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

The type of conduct discussed above fits squarely within medical malpractice. Indeed, it likely even qualifies as criminal conduct, depending on specific facts that are not provided in the case link above. However, one thing is certain. The doctor violated his duty to provide his patients with the standard of medical care that should have been provided. When this occurs, doctors and hospitals may be liable for any injuries that are sustained as a result of their negligent or intentional actions. To learn more about the malpractice laws in Kentucky, consult with one of the dedicated medical malpractice attorneys at Miller & Falkner. Call 502-583-2300 to set up a free consultation with an attorney today.

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