How Do You Distinguish Between Medical Malpractice & Medical Negligence in Kansas City?
Posted in Medical Malpractice on February 14, 2019
When you or a loved one experience an injury at the hands of a medical professional or facility, it is normal to want those responsible to answer for their negligence. However, it is important to know the difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice when you’re planning a claim. Though the terms are related, there are nuances that differentiate the two.
To discuss your specific case, get in contact with a medical malpractice lawyer in Kansas City.
What is Negligence?
It is important to define negligence first. In general, negligence occurs when someone acts carelessly and causes injury to someone else. In order to prove someone’s negligence resulted in injury to a client, an attorney must prove the presence of the following four elements.
- The attorney must prove that the defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff. For example, a person operating a vehicle must do so with reasonable care to avoid harming others.
- Breach of Duty. The attorney must then prove that the defendant breached the legal duty by acting carelessly or failing to act as a reasonable person would in the situation. For example, the person operating a vehicle drove carelessly and breached a legal duty to drive with reasonable care.
- Causation of Injury. The attorney must prove that the defendant’s actions caused injury. For example, if someone operates a vehicle carelessly but does not cause an accident, he or she may receive a moving violation. However, if an injury occurs, the fault rests with the driver.
- The attorney must prove the plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s carelessness. For example, if careless driving caused an accident and injuries, damages are the medical bills related to the injuries.
What is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence is an act or failure to act, by a medical professional that does not meet the standard of care. In a medical setting, a medical professional owes a legal duty of care to each patient – in other words, there is a legal understanding that a medical professional will adhere to the standard of care according to any reasonable person. Acting in a way that deviates from the standard of care, whether by acting carelessly or failing to provide adequate treatment, is a breach of duty.
It is important to understand that a medical professional acting carelessly or negligently does not necessarily mean any injury occurred. If a medical professional fails to remove a cast at the proper time and does so the next day, for example, he or she has been careless but has not caused injury. A medical professional may be subject to disciplinary action for careless actions that do not cause injury, but in most cases, you cannot sue because no injury occurred.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical negligence does not always result in injury or other harm to the patient. When it does cause undue injury to a patient, however, negligence becomes malpractice. Recalling the two final elements of regular negligence, medical negligence becomes medical malpractice when the final two elements exist.
- Causation of Injury. The medical professional’s negligence caused injury to the patient that would not have occurred otherwise. Injury can mean the patient’s condition got worse, experienced complications, or needed additional treatment. In addition, the medical professional must foresee that injury was possible with the action, or failure to act. For example, administering medication that causes a previously unknown allergic reaction is not negligent because the reaction was unforeseen.
- The negligence must have a negative effect on the patient’s condition subject to compensation. Examples of damages are medical bills, undue pain and suffering, or mental anguish as a result of an injury.
Medical negligence on its own is not a sufficient reason to file a suit. However, medical negligence leading to medical malpractice that caused injury may be sufficient cause for a suit. Speak with your attorney to determine if your injuries are a result of medical malpractice.