Medical negligence and medical malpractice may seem like interchangeable terms that mean the same thing, however, it is necessary to know the difference between the two should you ever end up in a situation where a medical lawsuit is needed. Additionally, you will want a personal injury attorney who is well-versed in the difference between these terms and especially aware of how these terms apply to lawsuits in your specific state.
The act of being negligent in and of itself is important to understand in order to fully appreciate the meaning of medical negligence. The term negligent, by definition, is defined as “failing to take proper care in doing something” according to the Oxford dictionary. Therefore, medical negligence specifically refers to a physician or other medical professional failing to take proper care when treating a patient.
Medical malpractice refers to a medical or healthcare professional deviating from the normal standard of care, whether it be by negligence or intentional act, that then causes injury to the patient. Medical professionals are all sworn to a Hippocratic oath that requires them to swear to do no harm to patients as well as to maintain ethical standards at all times while treating patients.
Medical negligence and medical malpractice differ in a few ways. First of all, medical negligence does not require that that patient be injured. Even without an injured patient, a medical professional can still be found negligent. Medical malpractice on the other hand requires that the patient suffered harm of some type. This harm can include physical harm as well as mental harm. There is a standard of care that all health care professionals are expected to adhere to, and deviating from this standard or neglecting to perform to that standard of care usually results in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
The burden of proof is on the patient filing the lawsuit to prove that the doctor in question did in fact commit medical negligence or malpractice. This proof can be physical injury that the patient can visually show as well as mental anguish such as nightmares, anxiety, etc. Proving medical negligence or malpractice can be difficult, which is why a personal injury attorney is so necessary. The attorney will be able to help the patient prove that the physician was negligent and failed to uphold their duty to treat the patient with the standard of care that is reasonably expected.
If you or someone you know believes that they have been the victim of medical negligence or medical malpractice, contact an attorney today to discuss your options.