Hospital Not Liable for Chief of Staff’s Failure to Diagnose Lung Cancer

The administrator of the estate of a deceased patient sued the decedent’s treating physician for failure to diagnose a recurrence of lung cancer. The action also named the hospital where the decedent was treated, alleging vicarious liability for the physician’s negligence. The physician was an independent contractor who had privileges and served as Chief of Staff at the hospital. He had referred the decedent to the hospital and treated her there. On multiple occasions the decedent signed consent forms clearly stating that any treating physicians were not agents or employees of the hospital. The trial court granted summary judgment for the hospital.


Upon appeal, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The plaintiff argued that the consent form was confusing, but the appellate court upheld the form’s validity.


The plaintiff urged that the hospital be held vicariously liable for the physician’s malpractice under the doctrine of apparent authority. However, the court agreed that the hospital never held out the physician to be an employee or agent. Further, there was no evidence that the decedent relied on the hospital for her health care. Rather, she went to the hospital where her physician had privileges. Therefore, no factual basis existed to satisfy the elements of the doctrine of apparent authority.


See: Lamb-Rosenfeldt v. Burke Medical Group, Ltd., 2012 WL 975617 (Ill.App. 1 Dist.  Mar 22, 2012) (not designated for publication).