What you should know before choosing a University or Teaching Hospital
There are a lot of options out there when choosing a hospital. One such option is a university or teaching hospital. These are usually easily identified by their name, such as the University of __________ Medical Center/Hospital. But you should know that even hospitals not affiliated directly with a university or college can also be teaching hospitals. You should always ask your providers whether a hospital is a teaching hospital before undergoing care at the facility.
At a university/teaching hospital, patients are treated by both experienced doctors and students who are doctors in training (also known as residents). Residents treat patients under the guidance and supervision of the experienced doctors in the hospital.
Here in Ohio, we have a number of university/teaching hospitals, and all of them provide important and adequate care most of the time. However, just as with any hospital, sometimes mistakes happen, and patients are injured or die. Choosing a university/teaching hospital can affect the amount of compensation you are entitled to if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being an injured patient.
Under Ohio law, university/teaching hospitals enjoy certain immunities and other protections from lawsuits by injured patients. First, patients injured at a university/teaching hospital are not entitled to have their case tried to a jury. Instead, all cases must be filed in a special court known as the Court of Claims located in Columbus, and all cases are heard by a judge or magistrate appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court (as opposed to all other judges, who are elected by the constituents). Second, special caps on damages apply to university/teaching hospitals, limiting the amount an injured patient is entitled to recover, regardless of the severity or permanency of his/her injuries. Finally, university/teaching hospitals are entitled to set off certain benefits you receive from other sources, such as health insurance (which you paid for), disability insurance (which you paid for), sick pay/vacation time with work (which you earned), etc. In addition, if the mistake was caused by a student/resident, they are immune from personal responsibility for causing your injuries.
While university/teaching hospitals offer an important service to the state and are absolutely necessary to train the doctors of tomorrow, it is important that you are aware of the differences when injured while being treated at a university/teaching hospital. Before undergoing any procedure, make sure you know whether the hospital you are at is a teaching hospital, and if so, whether a resident or experienced doctor will be treating you. If you are uncomfortable being treated by a resident, make sure you make this clear to your doctors, and if they refuse to honor your wishes, find another hospital that will.
The information contained in this blog post is general information, and should not be treated as legal advice. No attorney/client relationship exists between the reader and Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC without a signed Attorney Contract Agreement of Representation. Each case is unique and past results should not be treated as a guarantee of the results in your case.