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Medical Negligence V. Medical Malpractice

Medical Negligence v. Medical Malpractice

The term medical negligence and medical malpractice are often used as meaning the same thing. There are some instances where they mean the same thing, however, they are two different terms. Medical negligence is one legal requirement of medical malpractice so a person can make a valid medical malpractice claim. One definition for medical negligence is “a medical act or omission by a health care provider”.

Medical Negligence v. Medical Malpractice

So, the question that would be asked is: when does medical negligence then become medical malpractice. Medical negligence becomes malpractice when the doctor’s negligent treatment or actions cause undue harm or injury to the patient. That is, when it makes the patient’s condition:

  • worse,
  • causes unreasonable or unexpected complications or
  • brings about the need for additional medical treatment
  • death

All is as a result of the doctor’s medical negligence where they stray from the normal standards of care. If the doctor’s medical negligence does not cause any harm or injury to the patient, it is not medical malpractice. Rather, it is simply just medical negligence. Thus there is the addition of two elements:

1.      Legal causation – this is showing that the act of negligence is the cause of the injury. Causation answers questions like:

  • What steps should the doctor have taken in treating the patient?
  • What steps were actually taken by the doctor?
  • How did the steps taken by the doctor cause or contribute to the patient’s harm?

2.      Damages – this looks at the nature and extent of the patient’s injuries or harm. Damages include:

  • further injuries caused by the act of negligence, 
  • causes unreasonable or unexpected complications or
  • brings about the need for additional medical treatment
  • death

These two elements are required for medical negligence to be a valid medical malpractice case.

Have you or someone you know suffered harm or injury at the hands of medical professionals? Speak to a personal injury lawyer for legal advice and representation

 

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