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Can a medical malpractice lawsuit be filed against cruise staff?

A medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed if the party believes that a healthcare provider was negligent in their medical care, resulting in harm to a patient. Such negligent medical care could be the result of a healthcare provider failing to diagnose a medical condition and thereby worsening the medical condition and causing the patient harm.

In many cases, in addition to holding the specific doctor or nurse responsible, the hospital that provides the care and employs the healthcare providers can also be sued. This is generally the case in a medical or healthcare setting such as a hospital or nursing home. But, what if the negligent medical care was provided by medical staff on a passenger cruise ship, can the cruise line be sued for medical malpractice in addition to the medical staff member?

Connecticut residents may find it interesting to learn that following a recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, passengers on a cruise ship who received negligent medical care from medical staff employed by cruise line can sue the cruise line in addition to personally suing the medical staff for medical malpractice. This ruling stems from a recent case involving Royal Caribbean Cruises. According to the court documents in this case, an elderly passenger was brought back to the ship after he fell asleep as the ship docked. He sought medical attention by going to the designated medical center on the ship. The family of the elderly passenger alleges that he received negligent medical care which worsened his medical condition, and he died.

Allegedly the nurse in the medical center on the cruise ship failed to diagnose and adequately assess the skull trauma he suffered, did not perform any diagnostic scans and let him go without any treatment or follow-up. The U.S. Court of Appeals did not adopt a 25-year-old doctrine which in the past granted cruise lines immunity in such cases. Instead, the court noted that the cruise line industry is evolving and is very complex. The court further noted that since Royal Caribbean Cruises was the employer of the nurse who allegedly provided the negligent care, the family of the elderly passenger had a plausible claim against the cruise line.

Source: Clinical Advisor, "Patients can now sue cruise lines for medical malpractice," Amy Latner, Dec. 12, 2014

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