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What Is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice?

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

When a patient receives medical care, certain standards must be met to ensure patients get prompt and proper medical advice, treatments, and procedures. If there is a deviation from these standards, then a patient may be facing issues like medical negligence or malpractice. Learn more about how medical negligence lawyers can help with your case and get you the compensation you deserve.

What Is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice?

The concepts of medical negligence and medical malpractice are very similar. Specifically, medical negligence can often lead to medical malpractice. Although these two concepts are related, they are often confused with one another, but the main difference between these two concepts is intent.

Defining Medical Negligence

Medical negligence occurs when a doctor causes harm to a patient unknowingly. For example, a physician can prescribe a medication that has negative interactions with another medication a patient may be taking because they failed to ask or check what other medications the patient was on. This is certainly negligent behavior, but it was not done on purpose.

Defining Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is related to intent. Specifically, a physician is guilty of medical malpractice if they knowingly take actions that could potentially harm a patient. For example, if a surgeon is not fully qualified to perform a surgery but performs it anyway, this could be considered malpractice since the physician is aware that they could harm the patient through lack of experience.

What Is the Main Element of Medical Negligence?

Many instances of medical negligence occur when a doctor makes a good faith effort for the patient but fails to provide treatment that meets the normal standard of care. Many physicians are unknowingly guilty of negligence because they believe they are providing adequate care when they may be performing careless actions that can harm patients.

In a medical negligence case, the main element is proving that a physician in a similar circumstance would not have taken the same actions; in other words, it must be proven that the standard of care was not met. If expert testimony suggests that the standard of care was not properly met by the physician, then negligence could be involved in your medical injury.

What Is the Main Element of Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is inherently more serious than negligence because it’s related to the intent of a healthcare provider. The intent in a medical malpractice case does not necessarily mean the physician wanted to harm the patient, but it could mean that the physician knew they were not providing the proper standard of care.

There are many elements to proving medical malpractice, but the most important element is proving intent. Proving intent may require expert testimony from other physicians to determine how they would have acted in a similar circumstance, or it may include gathering testimony from the physician who is being accused of malpractice. For example, if the physician admits that they could have ordered more tests before reaching a diagnosis, then they may be guilty of malpractice.

What Are the Consequences of Negligence and Malpractice?

Whether you are receiving care at the emergency room, an urgent care facility, or at your primary physician’s office, you should always expect the standard of care to be applied to your treatment. When the standards of care are not maintained, there can be long-term consequences. Some of these consequences can include:

  • Worsening condition
  • Ongoing treatment
  • Medical bills
  • Invasive procedures
  • Temporary or permanent disability
  • Loss of wages
  • Pain and suffering

These are serious consequences that can involve major changes to your everyday life and well-being. For example, if you require ongoing treatment because of negligence or malpractice, then you will likely have to work less and pay more medical bills. You deserve to be compensated for your suffering, discomfort, medical complications, and more.

How Can Medical Negligence Lawyers Help?

Medical negligence lawyers have several options to explore when it’s time to help you with your case. You and your lawyer will work to gather evidence that proves the elements of negligence or malpractice in your case. The more evidence you have that proves your case, the easier it will be to win the compensation you are entitled to.

Medical Records

Your medical records will be an especially important factor in your case. Medical records contain information about your condition as well as the treatments that were given to you. For example, if you received care at an emergency room, then all of the diagnostic tests and exams you were given should be included in your file. If certain tests are absent, then this can prove that the medical staff did not observe the standard of care.

Because your medical records will name the specific treatments you were given, this can give the experts analyzing your case information about your expected recovery. If you were given treatments but did not recover as expected, this could indicate that something erroneous happened during your care that worsened your condition or delayed your recovery.

Independent Medical Exam

An IME report is one of the most useful tools a lawyer can use to prove your case. With an independent medical exam, an impartial physician will be able to examine you to determine the extent of your condition and even offer insight into parts of your treatment that were incorrect or insufficient. The results of your IME will typically be included as part of the evidence used to prove your case.

Negotiate a Settlement

Another way medical negligence lawyers can help you with your case is to negotiate a settlement. If your lawsuit reaches court, then you may need assistance determining what is an appropriate settlement for your case. Determining an appropriate settlement will depend on the degree of your injuries, whether the physician is guilty of negligence or malpractice, and other elements of your case.

Your lawyer will try to reach a settlement that will provide compensation for all of your injuries, pain, and suffering. A judge or jury may be involved in your case, and this could potentially impact how your settlement is calculated. If your settlement for compensation is being settled outside of court, such as through mediation, then your lawyer and the lawyer representing the accused physician will negotiate directly.

Is It Hard to Win Medical Negligence and Malpractice Cases?

In personal injury lawsuits, medical negligence and medical malpractice cases are notoriously difficult to win. This is because it is hard to prove that a physician knowingly or unknowingly harmed a patient.

Physicians take an oath to always provide an adequate level of care that will assist a patient in diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. For this reason, juries and even a judge may be inclined to be lenient on a physician who is accused of negligence or malpractice. That said, with adequate evidence, you should be able to win your negligence or malpractice case.

Medical negligence and medical malpractice are two legal concepts that are closely entwined. As a general rule, medical malpractice will not usually happen without first establishing medical negligence. You will need the help of a lawyer to understand your case and to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries, damages, and emotional stress. To learn more about your legal options for your medical negligence or medical malpractice case, contact Peter Angelos Law today.