Issue: Under Illinois law, when will a court determine that a hospital is liable to a plaintiff under the doctrine of apparent authority?
Area of Law:
; Medical; Hospital; Liable; Doctrine of Apparent Authority; Justifiable Reliance
For a hospital to be liable under the doctrine of apparent authority, a plaintiff must show: (1) the hospital, or its agent, acted in a manner that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the individual who was alleged to be negligent was an employee or agent of the hospital; (2) where the acts of the agent create the appearance of authority, the plaintiff must also prove that the hospital had knowledge of and acquiesced in them; and (3) the plaintiff acted in reliance upon the conduct of the hospital or its agent, consistent with ordinary care and prudence. Gilbert v. Sycamore Municipal Hospital, 156 Ill.2d 511, 525 (1993). The element of justifiable reliance is satisfied if plaintiff relies upon the hospital to provide complete emergency room care, rather than upon a specific physician. Golden v. Kishwaukee Community Health Services Center, Inc., 269 Ill.App.3d 37, 45 (1994). In medical malpractice actions against a physician and the hospital, whether the emergency room physician was an apparent agent of the hospital, such that hospital could he held vicariously liable for physician’s negligence, is a question for the jury. Id. at 524.
The existence of an independent contractor disclaimer in a consent form is an important factor to consider in deciding whether a hospital held a physician out as its agent, but it is not necessarily dispositive. James by James v. Ingalls Memorial Hospital, 299 Ill.App.3d 627, 633 (1998).