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What Is the Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence?

February 3, 2020 in

The line between medical malpractice and medical negligence can get tricky, as negligence is actually a sub-category of medical malpractice. However, there are some key differences that patients need to be aware of. Medical malpractice is a general term, referring to any injury or complication caused by a healthcare professional. It does, though, have an element of “intent,” meaning the medical provider knew they should have provided treatment but failed to. Whereas, medical negligence is a type of medical malpractice, but an unintended mistake that results in harm. When a patient has suffered from either medical malpractice or medical negligence, it is important to talk to an attorney as they may be eligible for compensation.

medical malpractice vs medical negligence

Defining Medical Malpractice in New York

There are many types of cases that can fall under medical malpractice. “Malpractice” refers to a situation in which a professional does their job improperly. This includes general misconduct, breaching ethical rules, and negligent activity.  While medical malpractice usually refers to the malpractice of physicians, there are also cases of nursing malpractice, hospital malpractice, and even dental malpractice.

It is important to understand, though, that not every case with a bad outcome is automatically a case of medical malpractice. Healthcare professionals can only do so much, but are required to do what they can to help patients get better. As a result, cases involving medical malpractice come down to the “standard of care” required by the physician, hospital, nurse, etc. The standard of care is a guideline for the appropriate treatment that must be provided by a healthcare provider to their patients.  There is no definitive definition, as it varies, based on the patient’s particular situation and the information available to the physician or hospital.

When a healthcare provider is being accused of medical malpractice, the standard of care owed to the patient along with how it was breached, must be proven.

Common types of medical malpractice cases include:

  • Anesthesia errors
  • Birth injuries
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Failure to properly monitor patients
  • Hospital negligence
  • Informed consent issues
  • Medical negligence
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Nursing home negligence or abuse
  • Practicing without a license
  • Prescription medication errors
  • Surgical errors

Successful medical malpractice cases against healthcare providers can provide victims with compensation for their injuries, financial losses, and pain and suffering.

Defining Medical Negligence in New York

Medical negligence is often used interchangeably with medical malpractice, when describing instances of a healthcare professional’s failure to take proper care of a patient. That’s because negligence forms the grounds for most medical malpractice lawsuits. While a harmful act or carelessness is definitely negligence, it does not rise to the point of being medical malpractice because it was not done with the intent to cause injury. For instance, a surgeon who accidentally leaves a sponge inside a patient has not done so to purposefully harm the individual. In contrast, a surgeon who performs a procedure while lacking the skills to complete it successfully, can be considered a case of medical malpractice.

In order to prove a claim of negligence in court, the following four elements must be established:

  • The defendant owed the patient a legal duty of care.
  • The defendant breached that duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way.
  • The breach actually caused the patient’s injury.
  • The breach of care resulted in financial losses for the plaintiff, called damages. (e.g. medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering)

Patients have the same burden of proof when it comes to any medical malpractice case.

We Offer Free Consultations

If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice or medical negligence, have an experienced attorney at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, P.C. review your case.  Our New York medical malpractice lawyers may be able to help you get compensation for your injuries. Call (212) 732-9000 or reach us online to schedule your free consultation today.

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Our fee is on a contingency basis. If we don’t recover money for you, we will never charge you. If you are unable to come to any of our offices, we are happy to visit you at home or in the hospital.

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