Can I Sue an Ohio Hospital for Wrongful Death?

Post By Corey Heit

Hospitals are generally held responsible for the preventable mistakes of the doctors, surgeons, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists they employ. This means that, yes, the family or estate executor of a patient who died due to a health care provider’s negligence or recklessness can have grounds for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Receiving a hospital wrongful death lawsuit settlement or civil trial jury award, however, requires much more than showing that a patient died. To succeed with a wrongful death claim, the person who filed the lawsuit and their Ohio wrongful death attorney must provide evidence that answers a series of related questions.

A few of the biggest questions, which must also be answered in medical malpractice cases involving injuries, are

  • Was the person who died a patient of the hospital named as a defendant (“respondent” in legalese) at the time of death?
  • Did the respondent hospital actually employ the doctor, surgeon, nurse, or other health care provider who made the fatal medical error?
  • Did the patient die as a direct result of the error?
  • Would the error have been prevented by a health care provider who worked with equivalent equipment, training, resources, and knowledge of the deceased patient’s condition and medical history?
  • Did the error occur because the hospital and its management was negligent in its hiring, supervision, or oversight of the health care provider who committed the fatal medical error?

Each of the listed questions, which are far from the only topline issues that must be addressed, leads to a number of other related queries. For instance, that fact of who is a hospital patient at what time can be debated. Certainly, a person who died while undergoing surgery was a patient. But was a person who died from an infection a month after undergoing surgery? Evidence would need to exist that the deadly infection developed during the surgical procedure or while the person remained in the hospital undergoing postoperative care.

Arguments over whether a mistake could or would have been prevented will be even more contentious. The truth is that many patients do not survive emergency surgeries or chronic diseases. A doctor or nurse can do everything by the book, have access to the most-advanced techniques and tools, and still lose a patient. Succeeding with a wrongful death claim against a hospital requires showing that one or more of the people involved in the patient’s care failed to follow usual procedures or to use their knowledge and resources appropriately.

A final consideration is that any decision to pursue a wrongful death claim against a hospital in Ohio must be made quickly. State law imposes a one-year statute of limitations on nearly all lawsuits arising from alleged medical malpractice. In other words, answers to most of the questions regarding potential liability must be found within 12 months of a person’s preventable death.

To learn more about how to sue a hospital for wrongful death in Ohio, contact Corey Heit of Heit Law. From his main offices in Westerville, Corey advises and represents families in wrongful death cases in Columbus and throughout Franklin County. Schedule a free, no-pressure consultation by calling (614) 898-5300 or connecting with Corey online.

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