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Indiana Medical Malpractice | Captain of Ship Doctrine

Guy DiMartino Oct. 31, 2014

Indiana medical malpractice lawyer discusses the captain of the ship doctrine.

The captain of the ship doctrine rears its head in surgical cases. Typically, the lead surgeon is the captain of the ship so if he delegates duties to other folks in the operating room, whether it be a surgical tech, nurse or other surgeon, he is not relieved of responsibility if that person commits malpractice. Thus, the captain of the ship is responsible for its mates' actions.

Indiana medical malpractice lawyer discusses the Captain of Ship Doctrine

The Indiana Supreme Court explained the captain of the ship doctrine in Funk v. Bonham as the following:

A surgeon performing the delicate operation of deep surgery cannot assign details of the operation to those who assist him in the operation, unknown to the patient, and escape liability by delegating and relying upon such assistants to do and perform those acts which it was his duty to perform.

So, if there is more than one surgeon performing the operation and one is listed as the primary surgeon and the other listed as the assistant, the primary surgeon will be responsible for the negligent acts of the assistant.

Indiana medical malpractice law is complex. If you have any questions about a medical malpractice case, call our Northwest Indiana medical malpractice attorney or fill out the internet consultation form on the right side of the screen.