?? about lawsuit and doctor/hospital consequences

Nurses General Nursing


Hi, I will give you a little back ground information on the situation before I ask my question. Before my husband and I got married his mom had a gastric bypass procedure. They went to this doctor that apparently was actually a general surgeon and he led them to believe that he was qualified to do gastric bypass procedures. I don't know how they fell for this since you can check with medical boards if they are in fact certified and qualified to do certain procedures. But anyways my hubby's mom ended up having the procedure done and from what I understand the surgeon left a hole in her stomach that was open and it infected her whole system since she was doing well enough at first to be put on a liquid diet. My husband's family won the lawsuit and they settled out of court just recently. My father in law asked the lawyer something about the hospital and was told that the hospital wasn't going to get in trouble or anything and the doctor is going to continue to be able to practice here in our state without any penalties or anything. My question is can that actually happen?? I have heard of doctors not getting in trouble but not in situations like these where according to my hubby's family the doctor blantantly lied about his qualifications. This really disturbs me because my old babysitter is an LVN and knows so many people that have gotten their licenses taken away from them for all sorts of reasons. BTW when my hubby's mother went to the ER and told them she had just had the procedure done they refused to even touch her or do any testing until the doctor got there and actually saw her and ordered the tests and whatever needed to be done. The doctor never got to her in the three days that she was in that hospital and she died. This to me is just blatant neglect, but I can understand the ER not wanting to do anything since she had such a serious procedure done. Plus everyone at the hospital was telling the family that she was gonna be fine but wouldn't give any specifics and all of that while she just steadily got worse. So in that case can the hospital not get in trouble or anything and the same question goes for the doctor too. Sorry this post is soo long but I felt like I needed to explain the situation as clearly as I can in order to get an informed answer if that makes sense.

Da Monk

78 Posts

You have the settlement. What more are you seeking?


14,633 Posts

Yes, most doctors who are sued for malpractice continue to practice without losing their licenses after being successfully sued. However, if your husband's family "settled out of court," as you said, then, technically they didn't "win" the suit -- it was dropped when they accepted the settlement. The physician's "penalty" was the settlement paid to your husband's family. Losing his license is an entirely separate process that is controlled by the state regulatory board. No, the hospital doesn't get in any trouble unless the suit proves that the hospital actually did something negligent or illegal. Unless the physician is an employee of the hospital, which is rarely the case, the hospital is not automatically responsible for the physician's actions. I'm not aware of any legal restrictions on types of surgical procedures that surgeons can perform -- physicians are licensed as physicians, not by specialty, the same as nurses. I'm licensed as an RN, not as a psych nurse, cardiac nurse, or NICU nurse. Now, whether or not it's a good idea, or even safe, for me to practice outside my usual specialty is a whole 'nother question! -- but there are no legal restrictions on my doing so ... Same goes for physicians. Specialty certification for physicians is optional, same as for nurses. It is not at all uncommon for some doctors to "bite off more than they can chew" professionally, especially when there is big money to be made doing certain, high profile, high-profit procedures or services. Those of us who have spent lots of time in hospitals see it all the time. Some docs do it the "right" way -- take time off to go do some specialty training and get the supervision they need to be able to do something new safely and competently, and some docs just start doing it ...

Those are v. general comments -- your situation is much too complicated and has too many variables for anyone here to be able to comment specificially or definitively without having all the information. You say that your husband's family has already settled with the doctor, but an attorney could discuss with you whether there is any claim to be made against the hospital.

I'm v. sorry for your loss. Best wishes in sorting all of this out ...


61 Posts

Elkpark, Thank you for clarifying that. I didn't know that doctors didn't have requirements to do if they wanted to do a special field.I knew that about nurses though. You would think that the rules for doctors would be so much more stricter than for nurses. I guess that was also my question. Maybe I should not have given so much information because it sounds like the other poster got confused. I am still learning about the field of nursing and am pretty clueless about doctors rules and stuff like that. Again thank you.


61 Posts

I tried to post this before, so sorry if it ends up being doubled. I just also wanted to say thank you for educating me Elkpark. I didn't know that most doctors are not employees of the hospitals that they are allowed to do procedures at. I thought if you were allowed to do so then that meant you were an employee of the hospital. I still have a lot to learn so thank you fo taking the time to explain all of that to me.

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