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Negligence vs Malpractice: What Is the Difference?

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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You may be unsure of the best path forward if you have been injured due to medical negligence. Understanding the difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence claims is essential to help inform your decision-making process.

Drawing on my extensive legal experience as a personal injury lawyer, I would like to share with you all the ins and outs of medical malpractice and medical negligence – from what they are and how they differ from one another, as well as provide advice for those who believe their rights have been violated.

Quick Summary

  • To have a medical malpractice case, you must prove negligence and injury with damages.
  • To prove malpractice, it’s necessary to enlist the help of another expert witness who can establish that a typical professional in a similar situation would have acted differently and provided a higher level of care.
  • In the case of injury, you are entitled to seek legal retribution, including medical costs, punitive damages for gross negligence on behalf of the wrongdoer(s), and coverage for any related court fees.

When Does Negligence Occur? 

Two doctors talking about medical negligence

Negligence occurs when a reasonable person fails to act like any reasonably prudent person would do under similar circumstances [1]. In TORT law, harm caused by being careless is legally defined as negligence – not intentional harm.

Examples of Medical Negligence

Accidentally snipping a blood vessel and causing injury during an otherwise straightforward procedure is one example of medical negligence.

Other common examples include:

  • Birth injuries
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgical mistakes
  • Foreign objects left in the patient’s body

What Is Medical Malpractice?

A doctor looking at medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is a term for any negligence or subpar care a physician, nurse, or another medical professional may provide[2].

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can be expressed in a variety of ways, but some situations where one could file a lawsuit due to negligence include:

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Surgical errors or unnecessary surgery
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Disregarding or failing to consider appropriate patient history
  • Not ordering proper tests

Medical Malpractice vs Medical Negligence

A doctor looking at definitions of malpractice and negligenceThe difference between medical malpractice from negligence is paramount, and it all comes down to intent. Negligence can be a mistake – had the circumstances been different, the medical professionals may have acted differently.

Contrarily, when a doctor knowingly chooses an inappropriate way of treating their patient despite knowing better, this is considered medical malpractice.

Determining the distinction between these two scenarios can be crucial if you have recently been harmed due to medical provider negligence.

Not only could both types of errors permit you to reclaim compensation for any damages, but they are also separate legal cases.

Related Article: Strict Liability vs. Negligence

Establishing if Medical Malpractice and Negligence Took Place

To prove medical malpractice or negligence, your personal injury attorney must demonstrate that:

  1. An individual or organization has a legal obligation to ensure your security.
  2. They have deliberately violated their commitments.
  3. By breaching their duty, your injury was caused.
  4. Your injury was a direct outcome of the breach.

Demonstrating fault in a legal setting is often encapsulated into four hallmark components: duty, breach, causation, and damages.

When an individual brings an action of medical negligence against a healthcare professional or institution, they must demonstrate that the four elements explained previously are present.

To prove a breach of medical standards, your lawyer must demonstrate how the professional’s actions did not correspond with an accepted medical standard of care.

What Are Recoverable Damages in a Medical Malpractice or Negligence Case?

A lawyer looking at recoverable damages from medical malpractice or negligenceFrom follow-up appointments and treatments to prescription bills, being harmed by an incompetent healthcare provider can take its toll in more ways than one.

Furthermore, if your injuries are severe, life may never return to normal, leaving victims and their families with long-lasting scars.

These special, general, or punitive damages include:

  • Medical bills, both short and long-term
  • Temporary and permanent childcare costs
  • Lost wages or diminished earning capability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental Anguish

When it comes to medical malpractice cases, time is of the essence. If you fail to adhere to your state’s statute of limitations, your case might be thrown out in court, and you may miss out on the compensation you are rightfully owed and deserve.

A professional medical malpractice lawyer will assist with retrieving evidence and ensure that all deadlines are met to avoid costly delays or mistakes.

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FAQs

Can a Medical Incident Be Both Malpractice and Negligence?

Yes, a medical incident can be both malpractice and negligence. However, you must prove duty, breach, causation, and damages to get legal justice.

What Types of Compensation Are Available in a Medical Malpractice or Negligence Case?

The recoverable damages in a medical malpractice or negligence case include several specific categories of compensation. These include medical bills, childcare costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

What Is the Duty of Care, and How Does It Affect Malpractice or Negligence Cases?

Duty of care is the legal responsibility of a primary care provider to treat their patient with the same level of skill, care, and diligence as similarly situated professionals. If the duty of care is not met, it may constitute negligence or malpractice.

Why Is Malpractice Called Negligence?

Malpractice is called negligence because it is a type of negligence. Professional negligence, or malpractice, is the failure of a licensed professional (such as an attorney, physician, or accountant) to act according to their profession’s standard of care, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.

Get a Free Case Evaluation with Our Lawyers

If you think a medical provider caused harm due to negligence, call Schmidt & Clark, LLP for a free consultation session. Our personal injury lawyers can help guide you through fighting for what is rightfully yours.

Our experienced lawyers can provide evidence in a way that can be easily understood by people who may not have any experience with either legal or medical cases. They can also support your medical malpractice claim with reliable sources to ensure your medical negligence case does not go unheard.


References:

  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/negligence#:~:text=Definition,victims%20of%20one’s%20previous%20conduct).
  2. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/malpractice

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