Drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinics help those who suffer from drug and alcohol addictions. Rehabilitation does not always work, and frequently, these patients relapse one or more times before getting sober. Because licensing requirements vary from state to state, and because there are not well-established regulations for these rehab facilities’ operations, some facilities offer substandard care resulting in terrible injuries or death of their clients. If you or a loved one suffered an unpleasant experience at a rehab facility, you might wonder if you have grounds for medical malpractice or a medical negligence lawsuit.
If you or a loved one received treatment from a rehab facility that failed to provide an adequate standard of care, they could be sued for negligence. If the provider was a licensed medical doctor, they could also be held liable for medical malpractice.
Rehab Clinic Negligence
Drug and alcohol rehab clinics usually hire a staff consisting of healthcare providers, physicians, nurses, and assistants. If a clinic fails to conduct the appropriate background checks on their providers, and one of those staff members acts negligently, and a patient is injured, the clinic may be held liable for negligent retention or supervision. Similarly, if an employee fails to follow treatment clinic regulations or treatment protocols, then the rehab facility can be held responsible for general negligence.
Rehab Clinic Vicarious Liability
Vicarious liability is a theory under which one party may be held liable for a third party’s unlawful actions, even if that third party carries his or her own share of liability. If a treatment facility has an employee whose malpractice causes injury to a patient, the facility can be held vicariously responsible under a legal doctrine whereby employers are held accountable for their negligent acts of their employees. This concept plays an essential role in medical malpractice claims. It often means that organizations with greater financial resources (and larger insurance policies) will be able to provide significant compensation to injured individuals if they are found negligent.
Proving Negligence in a Rehabilitation Center
Sometimes it can be difficult to prove that a rehabilitation center caused further injuries due to the fact that some injuries are not physical but mental and emotional. For example, a physical therapist can harm you further by performing the wrong techniques, or a surgeon can harm your body due to negligence during surgery. In rehab facilities, injuries may not be able to be seen if the injury is, for example, sleeping in a dirty room or being allowed to relapse. However, even if the injury to the victim is not clearly visible, a victim must still prove the same elements as in a regular negligence claim. Namely, the rehab center and its staff members had an obligation to provide the victim with care, that the duty of care was breached due to a negligent act or oversight, and the breach of the standard of care, the victim suffered damages.
People go to rehabilitation centers to better themselves, not leave with further damages.
Knowing the difference between a rehab center and a sober living facility is critical when evaluating the liability of these entities. Rehab facilities are generally facilities that provide care to a client for a fee. Sober living houses, by contrast, usually do not provide care but simply provide a safe environment where sober individuals can live together.
Rehabilitation Residential Treatment Centers
These treatment centers are what we typically think of when we picture a drug and alcohol abuse recovery program. They are licensed by California, and those in the program are considered disabled under the Fair Housing Act.
Partial Hospitalization Programs
Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are hospital-like forms of outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation. These are comparable to intensive outpatient programs (IOP), but the amount of time a person spends in a PHP is 20 hours a week compared to the 9 required for an IOP.
Sober Living Facilities
These facilities don’t necessarily need to be licensed in California because they are supporting those who have already completed rehab. However, they do require a business license and require permitting to set up operations.
How To Proceed
If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice in a California rehab facility, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Call the Law Office of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., for a free consultation.