What is Respondeat Superior in Healthcare

Respondeat Superior is a doctrine within the legal concept of ‘vicarious liability’ under which an employer or the master is held responsible or liable for the trots or malpractice of his employee, although the master himself has not committed the trot. In healthcare, Respondeat Superior is a physician or doctor, who acts has an employer and other medical and paramedical staff, who act as employees. In case any medical staff commits a trot, the employer (physician or doctor) is held responsible for it and subjected to court cases.


  • 1

    The doctrine or concept of Respondeat Superior in the medical or healthcare system works the same way it does in other fields, although a doctor or physician may not be direct employer but acts as supervisor, overseeing medical staff under them.

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    In case of social healthcare system, the state is actual employer of the medical staff, but a doctor or physician who supervises staff in a healthcare setting or department is directly liable to trots of the employees and they can be made to answer certain questions surrounding the lapse.

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    It can happen that medical staff administer a wrong medicine or do a wrong procedure that has certain side effects or even fatal consequences for the patients, and in that case the physician or doctor is made liable to accountability and penalties.

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    The doctor who acts as a supervisor has to answer all malpractices being committed under him and might be subjected to court cases or other accountability procedures. The state can also make him explain reasons of the malpractice or lapses and if they are unable to give a convincing answer, they can be even charged with criminal negligence.

  • 5

    In the healthcare system, Respondeat Superior has the legal complication or setting, as in case of lapses physician can be charged with criminal negligence. Such cases often involve lawsuits cases, especially if the negligence has resulted in a loss to a patient. This can be physical or monetary loss.

  • 6

    The Respondeat Superior in healthcare system can be subjected to investigations and inquiries on different medical procedures, which may be valid according to their practice and fall within violation of their contractual terms or violation of general health and safety rules.

  • 7

    In case of social healthcare, physicians who act as Respondead Superior may not be made liable for paying compensation and the state instead compensate the affected parties on their behalf. Still they face some sort of action unless they satisfy the authorities about the lapse.

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