Medical Negligence Versus Malpractice: What Is The Difference?

Accidents happen in all fields of life. Medicine is not an exception. Every day cases of medical negligence and malpractice are reported from different corners of the world. Both terms suggest medical error but both might not be all similar. Medical errors usually happen when a hospital, a doctor and other healthcare professionals fail to provide a patient with the standard healthcare they deserve to receive.

Medical error can happen at any stage or step of the interaction between a healthcare provider and a patient. It can happen while making the diagnosis, or prescribing the medicine dosage, during the course of treatment and even in aftercare. The professional might not be responsible for mistakes committed by the patient.

Medical negligence versus Malpractice

The two terms come very close to each other in meaning but sometimes the intention behind the neglect of duty might differentiate the two. In both cases, the healthcare provider might fail in providing standard healthcare which might result in the patient experiencing harm, injury, or death to a patient. The line between the two is blurry and sometimes the two terms might be confused with each other.

As per reports, medical malpractice is constituted when a healthcare professional fails to adhere to certain standards of practice while treating people, or if the patient feels that the healthcare provider was negligent and it resulted in some injury or harm.

According to reports, sometimes the intention of the healthcare provider helps in differentiating whether the case is of negligence or malpractice. Medical negligence can sometimes involve conscious neglect of duties that can result in harmful consequences for the patient. For instance, overprescribing a medicine or forcing a patient into a procedure which results in a negative outcome. Negligence on the other hand is more passive and unintentional. For instance, accidentally giving a patient more anaesthesia than required and the situation resulting in complications or failing to take note of an interfering prior treatment with the current one.

Since both involve harm and injury to the patient, a healthcare professional might be legally answerable in both situations. The legal assessment of the case might require the law professionals to consider factors like whether the healthcare professional was aware of the consequences before a certain action was taken or whether was it an honest error that could be made accidentally without any ill intention.

What constitutes medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice could involve a wide range of behaviours that might fall short of providing standard healthcare to a patient, whether intentionally or accidentally. The following are a few examples-

Error in surgery
Premature discharge
Not prescribing necessary tests and procedures
Not following up
Leaving instruments inside the patient’s body
Operating on the wrong part of the body
Patient catching infections in the hospital.

What do you think?

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