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What are the Differences Between Malpractice and Negligence?

November 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Health, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Medical malpractice and medical negligence are two terms often used interchangeably, but they are actually two unique legal concepts. For those considering hiring a personal injury attorney to file a claim related to medical malpractice or medical negligence, it is important to understand the differences between the two concepts, and how each could factor into a case. Let’s take a look at each concept.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is defined as harm caused to a patient when a healthcare provider fails to provide care that meets accepted standards of care.  The standards of care are defined by what reasonable physicians would do in similar circumstances.  In medical malpractice cases, the claims revolve around the idea that the healthcare provider negligently failed to provide adequate and acceptable care, which resulted in harm to the patient. Click here, for more info, as no one should ever have to experience such a thing.

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence is defined as harm that is caused by carelessness that is not intentional. Most commonly, that means that a healthcare provider failed to exercise proper care that a similarly educated, reasonably prudent person would have exercised in the same situation. Medical negligence cases often involve factors like ignorance, lack of attention or action, unintentional mistakes, and oversight.

Similarities Between Malpractice and Negligence

While there are subtle differences between the concepts of medical malpractice and medical negligence, there are also similarities. These similarities include:

  • Both malpractice and negligence cases are covered under tort law
  • Both malpractice and negligence cases are civil cases used to pursue monetary compensation
  • Both malpractice and negligence cases require certain elements to be met in order for a lawsuit to proceed through the courts. These criteria are:
    • Establishing the healthcare provider’s duty of care to the patient
    • Proving that a breach in the standards of care occurred
    • Proving that said breach caused the harm suffered by the patient
    • Establishing the losses suffered due to the harm

Common Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence Claims

To better understand the difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence, consider these common claims:

  • Misdiagnosis: Misdiagnosis could be the result of malpractice or negligence depending on the situation. Misdiagnosis may be the result of malpractice if the healthcare provider is aware of symptoms but does not order tests or properly assess the patient. Misdiagnosis may be the result of negligence is the healthcare provider misinterprets symptoms or test results, or fails to provide an accurate diagnosis.
  • Surgical Errors: Surgical errors can be caused by honest mistakes, negligence, or intentional harm. Surgical errors may be the result of malpractice if the surgeon knowingly operates on the wrong body part, or deviates outside the norm for that surgery. Surgical errors may be the result of negligence if the surgeon is distracted, improperly trained or supervised, or is fatigued to the point of being careless.
  • Birth Injuries: Birth injuries are among the most traumatic of personal injury cases. Birth injuries may be the result of malpractice if the delivering doctor ignores complications or risk factors and fails to adjust the birthing plan. Birth injuries may be the result of negligence if the doctor misinterprets vital signs or reports, fails to communicate orders to nurses, or fails to act in a timely manner.

These are just a few examples of common types of medical malpractice and medical negligence cases. There are numerous situations that can lead to these types of lawsuits. Further, healthcare providers of all types, specializations, and rank can be held liable if their actions fall into the category of malpractice or negligence.

Getting Help with Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence Concerns

Though medical malpractice and medical negligence are two separate legal concepts, they are often included synonymously in lawsuits. In some cases, a medical negligence claim may lead to a medical malpractice claim. Ultimately, which term is used in court will depend on the issue of intent and other elements of your case.

Every legal case is different, and the best way to find out what sort of claim you may have is to speak with a medical malpractice attorney. Explain your situation and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up and address your concerns. As a patient, you have the right to care that meets accepted standards, and you have the right to pursue justice when you are harmed by someone else’s negligence.

Staff Writer; Steve Jones


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