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Can Medical Students Commit Malpractice?



"Teaching hospitals," which are affiliated with universities and medical schools, often have the reputation for providing high-quality care. But what many patients don't realize is that many of the "doctors" they're interacting with are actually medical school students, interns and residents who are still learning how to practice medicine.

If you've been injured at a teaching hospital as a result of a doctor's mistake or negligence, you may wonder if a medical student was to blame. And do you have the same legal recourse-such as a medical malpractice lawsuit-as you'd have if you were injured by an honest-to-goodness physician? Those are good questions.

Medical Malpractice in Teaching Hospitals

Although many teaching hospitals provide stellar care and treatment, there are some real risks of being treated by student doctors.

"Major teaching hospitals were nearly 10 times as likely as other hospitals to be rated as having high rates of serious complications," according to an Kaiser Health News analysis of Medicare data.

Others point to the July effect or July phenomenon, when new, inexperienced student doctors arrive in teaching hospitals and are more likely to make errors.

One of the most common causes of medical malpractice is negligent supervision of student doctors. These healthcare professionals are young, inexperienced, poorly supervised and still learning the ropes. Combine that with a patient who may be in need of urgent care, displaying symptoms that could be misinterpreted or suffering from a rare illness and you've created a recipe for disaster.

If you or a loved one was injured while in the care of a teaching hospital, your medical malpractice attorney may name several parties in your lawsuit. These can include:

  • The student doctor
  • The physician responsible for supervising the student
  • Other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, involved in your care
  • The teaching hospital
  • The medical school

Your medical malpractice lawyer will review the facts of your situation before determining which of these parties should be named as defendants in your lawsuit.

Visit LawyerLocator to learn more about medical malpractice or to locate a med mal lawyer in your area.

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