Have you had surgery, and the outcome was not what you expected? Before crying foul, you need to understand the terms medical negligence and malpractice. Below is some information about medical negligence and malpractice and how to know if you have a case.
What is medical negligence?
Negligence means carelessness or a breach of an obligation. More clearly, negligence occurs when someone agrees to do something, and then does not do what they agreed to do. A simple example of this is when your neighbor agrees to pick up the newspapers while you are away and does not do it. Your neighbor was “negligent.”
Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional agrees to perform a procedure, and either does not do it or does not do it properly. An example of this is if a surgeon leaves a surgical implement, like a sponge, in a patient’s body. In this case, the surgeon neglected to ensure that all surgical implements were removed before the surgery ended.
The difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence
Most people, who are not in the medical field, are not familiar with the difference between negligence and malpractice. The main difference has to do with intent. Did the medical professional intend to do what he or she did or was it an honest mistake? A lawyer will determine what to prove or disprove before a judge or a jury.
Negligence generally means a mistake (however costly) was made, but that there was no intent to make a mistake. When a medical professional’s actions can be proven negligent, then it becomes malpractice.
How do you prove medical malpractice?
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are four Ds when it comes to proving medical malpractice. They are duty, dereliction (negligence or deviation from the standard of care), damages and direct cause. Each of these four elements must be proved to have been present, based on a preponderance of the evidence, for malpractice to be found.
If the “Four Ds” cannot be proven, then it is not malpractice, though it may be negligence. A large part of doctors’ and hospitals’ insurance costs are to cover malpractice lawsuits. For that reason, most medical malpractice lawsuits are settled out of court, due to cost.
If you or a loved one believe you are a victim of medical negligence or malpractice, then contact Miller & Wynn. We can help determine if a lawsuit needs to be filled because we have decades of experience. Call us at (770)-942-2720 to make an appointment or visit our website at www.MillerWynnLaw.com.