Florida medical malpractice lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, discusses the captain of ship doctrine in medical malpractice cases.
The captain of the ship doctrine usually applies in surgical negligence cases. This law realizes that the surgeon controls the operating room and has the final say over the methods and procedures used. As an example, nurses and surgical techs are employed by the hospital or outpatient surgical facility but they are in the operating suite to assist the surgeon. Under these circumstances, the surgeon can be responsible for the nurse's or tech's malpractice if following the doctor's direction and lead. On the other hand, if the nurse's or tech's role is ministerial, like keeping count of sponges or surgical instruments, any negligence along this line would be against the nurse and/or tech.
A surgeon will not be responsible for the negligence of other physicians in the operating suite under the captain of the ship doctrine because these doctors have the prerequisite training and experience and bring their own expertise into the operating room. As an example, a surgeon would not be responsible for the negligence of anesthesiologist who messed up during a procedure.
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