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What Is the Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Negligence?

Medical Negligence

If you received improper medical care, from a surgical error to a misdiagnosis of your symptoms, you may be wondering about the difference between negligence and medical malpractice. An attorney will use these terms as they work to build your case.

If you have been harmed due to medical negligence or malpractice, we can help you make sense of the claims process. Contact The Joel Bieber Firm today to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer today.


Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence Are Two Different Things


Everyone makes mistakes, but when a mistake worsens the health of another person or causes them to undergo unnecessary, invasive procedures, then a mistake may actually be malpractice. Mistakes, oversight, or a failed duty of care by a medical professional can be considered negligence or malpractice.

At their core, medical malpractice and negligence are similar concepts. The difference between these two legal matters lies in the intent and the awareness of the healthcare professional who failed to provide a professional standard of care for you.

Medical Negligence is when a healthcare provider performs an action or makes a decision that accidentally causes their patient harm.

Medical malpractice, on the other hand, occurs when a healthcare provider is aware of the consequences of making a decision (or failing to make one) or taking action. For example, a medical care provider who is aware of proper protocols and disregards them or cuts corners may be liable for malpractice.

These are the simplified definitions; establishing malpractice in your case may be more nuanced than this, and the advice of a medical malpractice lawyer can help you understand what applies to your case and your legal options.



Medical Malpractice
Medical Malpractice and Negligence

To differentiate between medical negligence and medical malpractice, it’s helpful to look at a few examples of a patient being harmed through a medical error.

Suppose that you are having surgery, and during this routine procedure, the surgeon accidentally nicks one of your blood vessels. This can be considered negligence.

On the other hand, perhaps your surgeon should have run some tests before your surgery but did not, and you were harmed because of this. In this case, the surgeon may be liable for malpractice.

Perhaps you have chronic headaches, fatigue, and a loss of appetite. Your doctor may diagnose you with migraines and attribute the fatigue and loss of appetite to chronic headaches. They prescribe migraine medication and do not run any tests.

But the medication doesn’t work, and a second medical opinion reveals that you actually have a brain tumor. In this case, the first doctor may be liable for malpractice for failing to run tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms.

Discerning between medical malpractice and negligence is done on a case-by-case basis, and a lot of consideration goes into how to classify the error that led to your harm. Your medical malpractice lawyer will consider several factors, including:

  • What happened leading up to the mistake? Was it a confusing emergency or a routine doctor visit?
  • Was the physician aware of the consequences before they made a decision or took action?
  • What protocols were in place to prevent this mistake?
  • Did your healthcare provider follow the right protocols for your situation?
  • Is what happened to you an honest mistake that could have happened to any patient?
  • What is the standard of care that your healthcare provider is obligated to provide you?

Determining the duty of care you were owed by the physician and establishing that they breached this duty of care is the crux of your case. Your medical malpractice lawyer draws the connections between your current condition, the mistake that led to it, and the level of care a reasonable physician would have provided.

What Should You Do if You Think You’ve Experienced Medical Negligence and Malpractice?


If you’ve been injured after receiving medical care, had an illness or disease misdiagnosed and missed a window for early intervention, or underwent invasive and unnecessary procedures because of a misdiagnosis, consulting with a local medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine what to do next.

You have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses after medical negligence or malpractice, including recouping the cost of additional treatment, a second medical opinion, or medications you need to manage your condition.

You are also entitled to recover wages from time missed at work because you physically couldn’t work or you had to go to different doctor’s appointments. Pain and suffering are a consideration, too — the medical mistakes probably hurt, and you deserve to be compensated for your pain, suffering and diminished quality of life.

In addition to seeking advice from a medical malpractice lawyer, you may consider contacting the state medical licensing board. A representative of the board can look into the circumstances that led up to your harm and take appropriate action against the doctor, nurse, or other licensed medical care providers who harmed you.

When to Talk to a Lawyer


When you are represented by a medical malpractice lawyer, you have a legal advocate on your side fighting to hold a negligent medical provider accountable for their actions.

The facility you received care from may deny that mistakes were made, and their insurance company may deny your claim altogether. However, a personal injury lawyer protects your interests and can build a case on your behalf to help you recover compensatory damages.

If you’re unsure if you have been a victim of medical neglect or malpractice, we can help. Contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at The Joel Bieber Firm today to schedule a free consultation about your claim.

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