Negligence vs. Malpractice: How to Know The Difference So You Can Properly File a Claim
We put a great deal of trust into doctors and medical practitioners. We look to them for guidance, and sometimes, we very literally put our lives into their hands.
That’s why misconduct on the part of doctors is taken so seriously.
If you’ve experienced an injury or loss as a result of a doctor’s actions, you may eligible for compensation under the law. Your case and the compensation you can receive will depend on the actions your medical practitioner took (or didn’t take).
Many people don’t understand the distinction between medical negligence vs. malpractice. It’s not as simple as you may initially assume. Read on, and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.
Defining Medical Negligence
In explaining the difference between these two terms, it’s best to break down what they really mean.
Medical negligence, by definition, is an act or failure to act taken by a medical professional that differs from accepted medical standards.
Negligence is a common legal theory used in all sorts of injury cases, even outside of the medical world. Drivers on the road, business owners, and professionals in the workplace are all held to a certain standard of behavior in the eyes of the law.
Thinking about drivers on the road is one of the best ways to understand the concept of negligence. If a driver runs a red light and hits another vehicle, they have acted negligently. In this case, stopping at a red light is the accepted standard that all drivers adhere to.
Every driver has a responsibility to follow the rules of the road and to other drivers. Doctors and medical practitioners are no different. They have an inherent responsibility to their patients and the people they care for.
Prescribing dangerous medications, not adhering to safety protocols, or failure to communicate key information are all examples of medical negligence. Any action a doctor may take that would be out of the ordinary for other medical professionals in the same community can be deemed negligent.
Negligence and Malpractice
It’s important to understand that negligence and malpractice are not opposites or different options, but are actually connected.
Medical malpractice is an umbrella term, used to describe illegal actions taken by a doctor. Negligence is a component of malpractice. It is often the legal concept upon which malpractice claims are decided upon.
Negligence in isolation isn’t indicative of malpractice. But if the negligent action results in harm or injury to a patient or client, then a malpractice claim may be brought forward.
Any sort of worsened condition, injury, or complication as a result of a doctor’s negligence can be considered worthy of a malpractice claim.
There are also malpractice claims, although rare, that do not involve medical negligence. If a doctor is causing harm to a patient intentionally, then the concept of negligence does not come into play.
As you can imagine, there are rare instances where a medical practitioner is causing intentional harm to a patient. But it has happened, and a medical malpractice case is often brought forward.
All Too Common
These cases are more common than we like to believe.
Medical malpractice is actually the third-leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer.
Over 250,000 people die from medical errors each year, with some studies claiming that this number might even be much higher. These deaths are the result of human mistakes on the part of medical staff. Mistakes or miscommunications are prevalent and potentially fatal.
It can be essential to maintain focused communication with your medical practitioner so that you can ensure you or your loved one is getting the care required. Many professionals recommend seeking a second opinion if you want to feel more secure in the care you are receiving.
Who Is Responsible?
If you or a loved one has been hurt as a result of negligence or malpractice, who is held responsible?
It depends on the situation.
More often than not, a medical practitioner will be individually responsible for acts of negligence that they’ve committed. The doctor in question will be brought to court and charged.
However, there are some scenarios where a manager or supervisor could be found liable as opposed to an individual practitioner. If the injury or harm is as a result of inappropriate leadership, or a poor delegation of duties, a supervisor could be found guilty of negligence in a court of law.
Similarly, an employer can be found guilty of negligence if they’ve failed to hire staff who have the qualifications and skills necessary to perform the tasks at hand.
Determining fault and proving negligence can be a complicated matter, and it’s always recommended you have an experienced attorney on your side to take on such a case. This way, you can properly file a claim and receive the compensation that you rightfully deserve.
Medical Negligence vs. Malpractice: Now You Know
Doctors and medical practitioners are here to help us.
When you or a loved one has received harm or injury as a result of a medical professional’s actions, legal steps can be taken. Understanding medical negligence vs. malpractice can mean a lot to your case.
Have you or a loved one faced injury as a result of a medical professional’s actions? Ready to take the next steps and get justice?
Contact us anytime for a free consultation.
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