Differences Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice Explained

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medical negligence and malpractice

Differences Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice Explained

“Medical negligence” and “medical malpractice” are often used interchangeably. In layman’s terms, they seem to mean the same thing—and they do mean the same thing! Let us explain. If you’re reading this because you believe you’re a victim of improper medical care, you will better understand what your claim may entail by the end of this blog post.

Medical malpractice is a type of negligence claim

Think of negligence as one large umbrella. At the most basic level, this umbrella represents the failure of someone to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised. Several claims fall under this umbrella. Here are just some examples of negligence claims to illustrate the point:

  • medical malpractice: the failure of a medical professional to behave with care.
  • Workplace accidents: the failure of an employer to behave with care.
  • Car accidents: the failure of the other driver to behave with care.
  • Dog bites: the failure of the owner to behave with care.
  • Product liability: the failure of the manufacturer to behave with care.

Proving medical malpractice claims in court

The elements to prove negligence claims in court are summarized as duty, breach, causation, and damages.

Let’s explore what this looks like in a medical malpractice case:

1. Duty:

A provider not directly accountable for your care cannot be sued.

You can prove the doctor-patient relationship by providing your medical records to show that a medical provider or facility had a legal duty to provide you with proper treatment. The fact that there is a doctor-patient relationship is hard to deny and is not usually in dispute.

Where there is a doctor-patient relationship, doctors have a duty to treat patients with reasonable skill and good judgment. Duty is explained as what a reasonable person would do in a similar situation. However, because doctors have a higher level of medical training and experience, we assess this as what a reasonable doctor would do in a similar circumstance.

2. Breach:

In a medical malpractice suit, you must show that doctor did not act as competently or thoroughly as another doctor would in similar circumstances. In most circumstances, this necessitates the use of an independent medical expert’s professional opinion.

Did the doctor in question breach their duty to treat you with reasonable skill and judgment (as a competent doctor would have)? The law takes into account that medical care is inherently risky. Doctors are expected to make choices, which all have costs and benefits associated with them. Even if the choice is not necessarily the best one, so long as the doctor made a reasonable choice under the circumstances, they have some leeway.

3. Causation:

A plaintiff must show that the doctor’s failure to treat them with reasonable skill or good judgment caused their injury.

However, establishing a relationship between the doctor’s negligence and your injuries is difficult. Although unfair, the more time passes, the harder it is to link the injury to the medical care you received.

The defense will almost certainly argue that many other factors could have contributed to your condition or injury and that the injuries suffered were a risk you knew would be inherent in receiving medical care.

Would the harm have occurred anyway if the doctor acted improperly or not? Is the harm a direct result of the doctor’s actions, or was it a pre-existing condition?

4. Damages:

Finally, a plaintiff must be able to prove harm in the form of damages. Physical harm, physical suffering, mental suffering, loss of earnings, medical bills, and predictable expenses are examples of harm to a plaintiff.

Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Near You

Our medical malpractice attorneys will work relentlessly to establish a solid case that proves your injuries were caused directly by your healthcare provider’s negligence. Then we’ll fight for both the monetary and nonmonetary damages you’re entitled to. We serve clients throughout Memphis, Nashville, Jackson, St. Louis, and surrounding counties. Contact us online or call us today at 901-737-7740 for a complimentary case evaluation.

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