Thousands of Americans seek medical treatment every day, from private physicians, clinics, and hospitals. These visits may be because of an illness, injury, medication assessment, sports physicals, prenatal care, or regular checkups. Everyone expects their condition to be treated competently, but unfortunately, mistakes do happen. These mistakes are known as medical negligence or medical malpractice.
What Is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice?
Healthcare workers are expected to meet a minimum standard of care. This means that laws and rules that have been put in place to ensure effective, safe treatment of patients should be followed. Medical negligence or medical malpractice occurs when the standard of care is violated.
Both non-professional and professional medical caregivers can be guilty of medical negligence. These unintentional, careless mistakes can lead to injury or death.
Medical malpractice is a more severe charge. For there to be malpractice, negligence by a medical professional has occurred, but they must have knowingly deviated from the expected standard of care; They should have realized that their actions might harm the patient.
What Are Common Types of Medical Malpractice?
- Medication errors – may be prescribing the wrong drug, wrong dosage, knowingly prescribing a drug the patient is allergic to, or improperly administering anesthesia.
- Misdiagnosis – can be not diagnosing an illness or giving the wrong diagnosis. The error can be life-threatening if this happens with a serious issue, such as a heart condition.
- Surgical errors – includes errors during surgery such as operating on the wrong patient, leaving foreign objects inside the body such as surgical tools, or performing the incorrect procedure. Performing unnecessary surgery is also medical malpractice.
- Failure to treat – can be not ordering the proper tests for the patient’s condition, not monitoring the patient closely enough, discharging a patient too soon, or not providing care after discharge.
- Birth injuries – can include not providing proper prenatal care, failure to realize the fetus is distressed, improper use of tools during childbirth, not performing a c-section if needed.
Not every mistake is considered negligence or malpractice. Even if the error caused injury to the patient, it might not be classified as negligence or malpractice if the treatment was reasonable under the standard of care.
Do You Think You Have Grounds for a Lawsuit?
If you have experienced any of the issues in the list above, consult a medical malpractice attorney. They will gather information and help you determine if you have a viable case.