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What is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice?

Published: Sep 28, 2020 in Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death
Medical negligence

Although they are often thought to be the same, medical negligence and medical malpractice are two separate entities. Those who have never had to deal with either may not understand the distinctions.

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence is a term used when physicians, surgeons, nurses, dentists, psychiatrists, or other health and medical professionals perform their duties in ways that do not conform with accepted medical care standards. Most people have heard of the Hippocratic Oath, and doctors take this oath as a promise to treat patients to the best of their abilities, to accepted medical standards of care, and to not harm their patients.

When a physician breaks the Hippocratic Oath, they are deemed to be negligent. Medical negligence does not always lead to patient injuries, though. A physician can perform a job poorly, but the patient can be unscathed. Medical negligence may or may not lead to harm.

Negligence can also apply to other professions besides the medical field. Any working individual who exhibits carelessness, poor judgement, or deviation from the industry’s accepted standards may be considered negligent. Medical negligence is thought to be more serious since it has many risks.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Intent is crucial when determining medical malpractice. Basic medical negligence is when mistakes are made that cause patients unintended harm. In these situations, doctors and other medical professionals make unintentional errors without any malicious intentions. Medical malpractice is different because the provider was aware that they were not providing the appropriate standard of care. The intent may not have been malicious, but the provider may have been trying to save time, money, or did not take different appropriate measures. Medical malpractice cases arise when physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals break the Hippocratic Oath and cause injuries, harm, or death.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

A few examples of medical malpractice include surgical tools left in patients’ bodies after surgeries, surgeries performed on the wrong body parts, and incorrect medications. Medical malpractice can occur in any branch of the medical industry.

Medscape’s 2019 Malpractice Report surveyed more than 4,300 physicians who were involved in lawsuits. According to their responses, the top 10 physician specialties involved in lawsuits in 2019 were the following:

  • General surgery
  • Urology
  • Otolaryngology
  • OB-GYN and women’s health
  • Specialized surgery
  • Radiology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Cariology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Anesthesiology

Their surveys also revealed that the main reason for malpractice claims was failure to diagnose, followed by post-treatment and post-surgery complications, poor outcomes, failure to treat or delayed treatments, and wrongful deaths.

The respondents who faced medical malpractice claims also indicated that they spent significant amounts of time preparing for their defenses. This included meeting with lawyers, gathering evidence and other records, participating in discussions and depositions, and trial time. Some practitioners also lost their licenses after malpractice cases.

What Must be Proven?

Medical negligence is a very serious matter, but is not always easy to prove in court. It can lead to a medical negligence lawsuit if a patient is injured and chooses to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical professional. In these situations, the medical professional who is accused of malpractice faces charges stemming from their negligence.

Plaintiffs must show a breach of duty, dereliction, damages, and direct cause. This means proving that the medical professional owed a patient health care and that this owed health care was not reasonably provided. There must also be proof of an injury or illness. It needs to be shown that an injury or illness was caused by the provider’s negligence. The court must also see that the negligent provider could have anticipated that their actions could cause an injury or illness. It must be proven that the health care services were not provided in a standard, expected way, and this failure caused the patient considerable physical, emotional, or financial damages.

What Evidence Should I Collect?

Medical negligence and malpractice cases can be uphill battles, but they may be worth pursuing for some victims. An experienced lawyer may be able help an injured party recover damages. It is suggested that a victim obtains solid evidence of the physician’s lack of care or intent to cause harm. Pertinent documents include the following:

  • Proof that the physician was informed about any prior conditions, like past surgeries or allergies.
  • Proof that the physician was aware of any pre-existing conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Copies of prescriptions.
  • Details about how an operation was supposed to have been performed.
  • Manufacturer warnings about medical tools, medical devices, and medications.

Some medical malpractice victims also engage the services of medical expert witnesses who can objectively analyze cases and offer their opinions. There may be other witnesses who can corroborate the claims, like family members or others who saw what occurred. If a victim is seeking to construct a case, it is important that they hire a lawyer.

Edwardsville Medical Malpractice Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Help Victims Injured by Negligent Medical Professionals

Medical errors caused by negligent medical experts are not uncommon. If you believe that you have a medical malpractice case, contact our Edwardsville medical malpractice lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 618-277-3644. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients throughout Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County.