If you’re not a lawyer or a doctor, for that matter, you might not know the difference between medical negligence and malpractice. That sort of thing may seem like semantics to you anyway. However, if you are going to bring a lawsuit against a doctor or some other medical person or entity, knowing the difference between these concepts might turn out to matter more than you suspect.
We’ll talk about the difference between these concepts in the following article. At the end, you’ll understand what each term means and the differences and similarities between them.
Before we get into the difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice, we’ll explain each term’s essential components.
Medical negligence, or any negligence, occurs when an individual doesn’t use the same care level that a prudent, reasonable professional would under similar circumstances. Whenever a lawyer talks about medical negligence in court, they often say that the doctor or whatever other medical individual did not meet the care standard that the medical community would expect.
The key point is that the doctor, nurse, orderly, clinic, or hospital network did not mean to hurt anyone. That is to say, they did not harm anyone intentionally. They should have taken action or not taken action, and that failure caused harm or perhaps even killed someone.
With medical negligence, what we’re talking about is an error or judgment lapse. These things happen pretty frequently, which is why medical negligence cases are always working their way through the courts.
Medical individuals or entities sometimes settle out of court before the lawsuit reaches a jury decision. Other times, the plaintiff drops the case if they realize that things are not going their way.
Medical malpractice is slightly different, and most people consider it to be more serious once they hear what it entails. Medical malpractice introduces an intent element. In other words, you have a doctor or some other medical person who acts in such a way that they know they will harm the patient, but they do so anyway.
Why might a doctor or some other medical individual act that way? There are many possible reasons. For instance, perhaps the patient says or does something that the doctor or other medical professional does not like.
The medical professional either takes or does not take action that the medical community feels they should take, but they don’t do so by accident. They know what they’re doing, and because of that, most people would look at this action as being more egregious than medical negligence, which carelessness might cause.
What’s the Difference in Court?
Now you know a little about both these concepts, but what might the difference be in a courtroom setting?
For the most part, if you bring a civil lawsuit against a doctor or hospital, and you try to say they committed medical negligence, you might be able to cash in. They will have to financially compensate you for their action or inaction. You might need that money for additional surgeries, physical therapy, prescription drugs, or whatever else you require following what took place.
If you try to claim that the medical person knew what they were doing, and they harmed you through deliberate intent, that often rises to the level of criminal charges as well as a civil action. You’re not the police, so you can’t bring criminal charges against the doctor or whoever else you blame. However, your civil case might result in criminal charges against the responsible person or medical entity, regardless of how your lawsuit turns out.
Generally, you’ll be more inclined to forgive a doctor or nurse who makes a mistake. Maybe they are working too many hours, and they harm you by giving you the wrong prescription or leaving a tool inside your body when they operate on you. It shouldn’t happen, but you know they didn’t do it intentionally.
If you feel that a doctor or some other medical person harmed you on purpose, you will probably be furious with them. You can’t grab the nearest weapon and go chasing after them, though. You need to pursue them in court since that’s what society dictates is the appropriate action.
Whether you allege medical malpractice or negligence caused harm to you, you’ll need to hire an outstanding lawyer if you want the best result. Find one who has experience with these types of cases, and do all you can to seek justice.