What is the Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans made nearly a billion office-based physician visits each year. During that same time frame, an average of 36 million people were admitted into U.S. hospitals. 

When you feel sick, hurt, or even just off, you go to the doctor. You expect doctors to be qualified, hospitals to be properly sanitized, and processes to be effective. In other words, you expect to receive exceptional care.

But what happens when those expectations aren’t met?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the key features of medical malpractice and medical negligence. What are they? How do they differ? And what are the legal options for victims? Read on to find out.

Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice Defined

Medical negligence happens when a provider deviates from the acceptable standard of medical care. 

In other words, negligence occurs whenever it is reasonable to believe that another doctor—one with the same background and within the same medical community—would have treated the patient differently.

If a doctor deviates from the norm and fails to offer a standard level of care, they may be guilty of medical negligence. 

Usually, medical negligence is the groundwork for a medical malpractice case, but this is not always the case. That’s because medical negligence doesn’t always result in injury.

Medical malpractice, on the other hand, is always defined by an injury. If the provider’s negligence worsens a condition, causes unexpected complications, or necessitates further treatment, the event can result in a medical malpractice suit. 

A successful medical malpractice claim hinges on two factors: 

  • Proof of negligence
  • Quantifiable damages

This might seem simple enough, but medical malpractice claims are notoriously difficult to navigate.

The Path to Proving that a Doctor Was Negligent

Looking at a past medical event and determining whether negligence took place is difficult. Oftentimes, the only record of the treatment is the accused doctor’s notes, which are by nature self-serving. 

To successfully gather evidence for medical negligence, you may need to hire a third-party medical professional. This third party can review the event and provide an unbiased opinion on what should have taken place. 

Here are a few common examples of medical negligence:

  • Failure to diagnose a condition
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Premature discharge
  • Unnecessary treatment
  • Improper medication/doses
  • Failing to consider a patient’s relevant history

If you can prove that a negligent event took place, you’ve accomplished the first step of building a case. From there, you’ll have to prove that you sustained an injury and that the injury resulted from the negligent event. 

That way, you can receive compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Long-term effects
  • Lost wages

There are cases in which medical malpractice is straightforward and obvious. Most often, however, these cases are difficult and complex.  

The Importance of Hiring a Qualified Attorney

According to John Hopkins Medicine, medical malpractice happens more often than most people would like to think. In fact, each year, between 80,000 and 160,000 preventable injuries and deaths happen because of medical negligence. 

If you find yourself on the wrong end of this statistic, you don’t have to fight alone. A medical malpractice attorney has one goal: to get victims of medical malpractice much-needed compensation. 

To do this, the attorney will:

  • Walk you through the claims process, step by step
  • Confirm the existence of a doctor-patient relationship
  • Review the details of the case and gather evidence
  • Help you to decide the best course of action

It may be necessary to take the case to court or negotiate a settlement. In either situation, an attorney is a valuable asset.