Updated August 22, 2020
Medical malpractice and medical negligence are different but very much related in that medical malpractice is a kind of negligence. The distinction between the two is that, while all medical malpractice is negligence, not every instance of negligence in a medical setting is malpractice.
The difference between negligence and malpractice is a critical part in determining whether you have a viable medical malpractice claim, but understanding that difference isn’t a simple task. That’s why you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney on your side to help you understand your options, build a strong case, and advocate for you in negotiations with insurance companies.
Negligence in personal injury cases simply means that the defendant failed to do something, which in turn caused harm. In medicine specifically, negligence takes the form of a doctor’s failure to uphold the patient-physician relationship in a way that would be reasonable when held up next to that of their peers. This failure usually takes the form of mistakes that result in harm to the patient.
An example of medical negligence would be accidentally leaving surgical tools inside of a patient once the surgery is done. No doctor would knowingly leave something inside of a patient, but the action must be acknowledged as both a mistake and an oversight.
Malpractice falls under the banner of negligence. It refers specifically to a deliberate breach of the contract between the patient and their caregiver, whether the caregiver is a doctor or a hospital staff member. In malpractice, the healthcare provider knew something that could either help or harm the patient and consciously chose the option that harmed them. Again, no one set out with the goal of harming the patient, but they still took an action that had the risk of causing injury or death.
Medical malpractice can come in many forms. Misdiagnosing medical conditions is both common and extremely dangerous, as it could very easily result in death or permanent injury. If a doctor fails to order a necessary procedure or prescribes a medication despite the risks or side effects coupled with a lack of communication, it could be considered medical malpractice. In all of these cases, the knowledge was there, but the intent is questionable.
The difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence comes down to one key word: intent. While no medical professional sets out with a goal to harm the patient, there is a lot that can happen in an exam room or on an operating table by accident or via a conscious choice.
When this situation happens to you or someone you love, mull over what happened. Start to think about which of the two categories might apply to the potential mistreatment, and if you need assistance, consider contacting a medical malpractice lawyer.
If you believe that you have a medical negligence or a medical malpractice case on your hands, the first thing that you should do is put together your records.
Keeping detailed records of your medical history and care is the best way to compile all of the evidence you need to have a strong medical malpractice or negligence case. To win such cases, hard, fool-proof evidence will be your saving grace.
Medical malpractice cases are extremely complicated, so hiring an attorney with past experience in these types of cases is a must. Contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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