When you are the victim of medical malpractice or medical negligence, the difference in these two legal terms may not mean much to you; however, to your attorney they should mean quite a bit. Your personal injury attorney must understand the difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence in order to obtain a successful outcome in your malpractice claim. If the attorney you choose does not understand the difference between these two legal theories and understand the various elements that must be present in each situation to win, you could lose your case or your compensation could be reduced.

The malpractice attorneys of Larson Griffee & Pickett PLLC have extensive experience handling a variety of medical malpractice cases. Before you decide how to proceed with your claim, we want to get all of the details about the incident from you and conduct an independent, thorough investigation into the circumstances that led up to and caused your injury. Only then can our attorneys give you the advice that you need to make an informed decision how you want to proceed.

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What is Medical Malpractice?

First, not every bad outcome in the medical field rises to the level of medical malpractice. Doctors and other medical providers can only do some much in any situation. Sometimes they will not be able to save a life or prevent a bad outcome. However, doctors and medical providers have a duty of care that they owe their patients.

The duty of care is based on what a prudent person in the same position and with the same knowledge would have done in that situation. Proving this can be difficult which is why you must hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible, if you believe you or a family member is the victim of medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice is the breach of the duty of care by a medical provider or medical facility.  It has an element of “intent” that medical negligence does not have in it.  The doctor or provider knew he should have done something to treat the patient but he failed to do so knowing that his failure may result in harm to the patient. It was not intentional in that he wanted to harm the patient but it was intentional because he knew that by doing so the risk of harm was present. For example, a doctor decides to forego an expense diagnostic test because the person’s insurance company will not pay for the expense of running the test; therefore, the doctor would bear the financial burden if he the test.

On the other hand, medical negligence does not involve intent.  Medical negligence applies when a medical provider makes a “mistake” in treating patient and that mistake results in harm to the patient. While the act or omission is definitely negligence, it does not rise to the point of medical malpractice because the medical provider did not commit the action either with the intent to cause harm or the knowledge that the patient might suffer harm.

An example of medical negligence may be when a nurse accidentally leaves a sponge inside a surgical wound. She did not intend to harm the patient but her action may not rise to the level of medical malpractice. Only an experienced medical malpractice attorney is qualified to evaluate the case based on the facts to determine whether a medical malpractice lawsuit is required or a medical negligence lawsuit would be better given the set of facts in your case.

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