When you go to the doctor, you expect top-notch medical care every single time. Unfortunately, medical malpractice and medical negligence can end up causing you more pain and complications than you initially sought treatment for. But what is the difference between medical malpractice vs negligence? How are they the same and how are they different? In this blog, the Southfield medical malpractice lawyers at Lipton Law provide insight on how to tell the difference.
At Lipton Law, we can help you identify whether you were a victim of medical malpractice or medical negligence. If grave surgical errors or medication errors caused your injury or emotional distress, you have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. A Michigan personal injury lawyer with our firm will guide you through the process of filing a negligence or malpractice claim. Our years of experience will work in your favor as we build a strong case and seek full compensation for your injuries. To schedule your free case evaluation with us, please call our office at 248-557-1688 today.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical providers do their best to provide care to their patients. They do this by performing tests, prescribing medication, and/or performing surgery. Training and education hold a doctor or nurse to a higher standard than other members of the medical field. This is why receptionists or support staff are not responsible for medical injuries in most cases.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider does not follow the standard of medical care and knowingly causes harm. The intent may not be to harm the patient. The intent could be to avoid performing an expensive or time-consuming test. The proper tests could have helped determine a diagnosis sooner and helped the patient receive treatment sooner. When something like this happens, legal action can be taken against the responsible party for their negligent actions.
The mistake could be very evident, such as amputating the wrong body part or performing surgery on the wrong person. In these cases, the surgeons failed to perform the proper verification and confirm the details of the surgery. Their intent could be to perform the surgery quicker to leave early, knowing it could cause harm to the patient.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can include surgical errors, unnecessary surgery, and wrong medication/dosage. A medical facility that does not practice proper cleaning methods can also be liable.
A surgical error can be any mistake during surgery–from operating on the wrong patient to making the wrong incision. Unclean facilities can cause complications like infections after surgery.
If you have any questions about whether or not you can pursue a medical malpractice case, contact Lipton Law today for a free case evaluation at 248-557-1688.
What Is Medical Negligence?
People go to a doctor for help and expert opinions. All medical professionals must follow a standard of care for patients. Failure to do so can result in patient harm and even death. Negligence occurs when doctors and other medical professionals fail to provide proper care. Mistakes can result in severe consequences for the patient. Medical negligence is unintentional and without malicious intent. The mistake can seem small, like overlooking patient history or misreading lab results. If a prudent person with the same education and knowledge of the case would have acted differently, you may have a medical negligence case.
Examples of Medical Negligence
Negligence and malpractice take many forms. Below, we list some specific examples of medical negligence that could lead to a medical malpractice claim.
- Failure to diagnose a condition (such as heart disease)
- Performing an unnecessary surgery
- Ignoring or misreading lab results
- Failure to order lab tests
- Not taking an appropriate patient history
- Giving the wrong medication or dose to a patient
- Surgical errors or operating on the wrong site
- Failing to provide adequate supervision or follow-up care
- Discharging a patient prematurely
What Are the Four Elements of Medical Malpractice?
In a medical malpractice case, it is extremely important that you be able to establish the four elements of a malpractice claim. Without proving negligence and other necessary elements, your claim may not have much weight in court. Below, we outline the four elements of malpractice that you and your attorney must prove.
- Duty of Care: A doctor-patient relationship existed in which the doctor owed a professional duty of care to the patient. The obligation that doctors owe to their patients is to uphold all acceptable standards of medical care during treatment.
- Breach of the Duty of Care: This often requires the patient to prove negligence on the part of the doctor. Doctors can breach the duty of care in a number of ways, including failing to diagnose a condition or prescribing the wrong dose of medication.
- Causation: You must then show the connection between that breach and the injury or harm you suffered. Having a personal injury lawyer is essential in proving this element, as they will know what evidence to gather to support your claim.
- Damages: Lastly, you must prove that you suffered actual damages as a result of the breach of the duty owed to you. Recoverable damages in a medical malpractice case include general damages, special damages, and punitive damages.
What Is the Difference Between Malpractice and Negligence?
Intent is the key difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice. They may seem like the same thing at first glance, and the phrases are often used interchangeably. Medical negligence is an aspect of medical malpractice. Depending on which type of case you want to pursue, the difference is important. A qualified personal injury lawyer can help you make the distinction between medical negligence and medical malpractice. For a medical malpractice suit, you and your legal team have to prove medical negligence and intent. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be very complicated, so be sure to see an attorney with experience in malpractice suits.
How to Know if Medical Malpractice or Negligence Occurred
It can be difficult to determine whether or not you are a victim of medical provider negligence and malpractice on your own. This is why we strongly recommend speaking with personal injury lawyers who have extensive experience with medical malpractice cases. The personal injury attorney handling your malpractice or negligence claim will be well-versed in this area of law.
Professional negligence can be difficult to prove, especially in cases where there is a high burden of proof. If you are unsure of whether or not you have a valid claim, schedule a free consultation with our attorneys. We will examine the facts of your case, gather all necessary information, and inform you of whether or not you should proceed with a malpractice case.
Can One Incident Be Both Malpractice and Negligence?
Technically, yes. However, this heavily depends on the facts of your case. Both negligence and malpractice tend to overlap in a personal injury claim. Your attorney and the court will consider the following information when determining whether malpractice vs negligence occurred.
- What events preceded the mistake?
- Did the medical professional understand the risks before taking action or making a decision?
- Were there any protocols in place at the hospital or medical facility that could have prevented the mistake? Did the healthcare provider bypass those protocols?
- Did your doctor try to administer the best possible treatment under the circumstances?
- Could anyone have made the same honest mistake?
What to Do as a Victim of Medical Malpractice or Negligence
Suffering an injury or illness because of medical negligence is never an easy thing to work through. Oftentimes, these cases result in great physical pain and emotional suffering for patients who receive substandard care from a hospital or physician. However, there are steps you can take as a victim to ensure that all responsible parties are held liable for your injury.
- Request copies of your medical records. As soon as you realize that something went wrong, obtain copies of all your records. This helps to prevent the destruction or falsification of medical documents.
- Keep detailed notes on everything that happens in a journal with dates and times. Include details such as the impacts that the injury has on your life and receipts for expenses and lost income.
- Consult with another doctor about your injury. Getting a second opinion is a great idea, as another doctor can provide expert testimony for your personal injury case. Their testimony gives weight to the fact that the negligent actions of your doctor should never have happened.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. Having a passionate lawyer on your side has many perks in medical malpractice cases. Their specialized knowledge will ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable for your injury.
Can I sue for Negligence if I Wasn’t Injured?
It depends. In order to have a valid claim, you must prove that you suffered actual damages as a result of your doctor’s negligence. Damages can come in several forms, including the following.
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional or mental pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity
How Much Compensation Can I Receive for Medical Malpractice?
Now that we’ve covered the difference between medical malpractice and negligence, you’re likely wondering what kind of compensation these cases may have. Many states have damage caps on malpractice claims, so we strongly recommend speaking with a lawyer about what to expect for your claim. With a successful claim, you can expect the following types of damages.
- Current and future medical expenses
- Loss of income or earning capacity
- Disability or disfigurement
- Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Contact a Michigan Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
At Lipton Law, we understand that a doctor committing a negligent act against you as a patient can be frustrating and sometimes scary. Having a compassionate, experienced personal injury team on your side is essential when it comes to a successful claim. Not only can we help you understand the difference between medical malpractice and negligence, but we can also provide excellent legal counsel for your case. To schedule a free consultation with us, please call our Michigan law firm at 248-557-1688 today.