What Is The Difference Between Negligence and Malpractice?



As a patient, you trust your family doctor and other medical providers you visit to provide quality care and the services that you need. This includes keeping accurate medical records, thoroughly reviewing your current health at visits, correctly diagnosing any symptoms you suffer from, ordering the proper tests, and providing appropriate treatment. When they fail to do so, it can have serious ramifications on your health and well-being and may be a case of either negligence or medical malpractice. Find out the difference between them, as well as how those at-fault can be held liable for the personal injuries you suffer as a result.

Medical Negligence


Negligence is a legal term that means taking actions a reasonable person would otherwise not take that put others in harm's way, or failing to take reasonable actions to prevent personal injuries. Negligence plays a key role in personal injury lawsuits, such as car accidents, pedestrian accidents, premises liability cases, and product liability claims.


Medical negligence involves unintentional errors and mistakes on the part of medical providers that put patients at risk. They can involve your regular doctors, nurses, or medical office administrative staff, as well as emergency medical services (EMS) personel, diagnostic technicians, specialists, surgeons, and anesthesiologists. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), among the most common types of medical mistakes and errors include:


  • Mistakes in keeping patient charts and recording medical histories;

  • Misdiagnosis of symptoms;

  • Diagnostic testing errors and failure to properly read results;

  • Surgical errors, such as neglecting to remove all surgical sponges, failing to properly seal wounds, and operating on the wrong site or the wrong patient;

  • Errors involving blood transfusions;

  • Adverse drug events related to anesthesia or medications;

  • Healthcare-related infections due to improper sterilization;

  • Slips and falls or other injuries that happen in healthcare settings due to wet floors, lack of proper patient monitoring, and other dangerous conditions;

  • Errors in providing emergency medical interventions.


Medical errors and mistakes can result in serious adverse events for patients, which can have the potential to cause serious harm. The NIH warns that effects are most likely to be severe when they happen in intensive care units, operating rooms, and emergency departments, as well as in the care of older, chronically ill, or seriously injured patients. Whenever medical negligence does occur, you have the right to hold those at-fault responsible for the damages you suffer as a result in a personal injury claim.

Medical Negligence Versus Medical Malpractice


Under the South Carolina Statutes, doctors and other medical providers owe a duty of care to their patients. Medical malpractice is defined as either taking actions a reasonably prudent health care provider would not take in a similar situation or failing to take certain actions that adversely impact the patient.


What is the difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice? Medical malpractice implies intentional actions or inactions on the part of medical providers. Examples of this include:


  • Intentional rushing through doctor visits;

  • Failing to consult the patient chart;

  • Ignoring obvious symptoms;

  • Not performing the appropriate tests;

  • Misreading or ignoring test results;

  • Not referring patients to specialists as needed;

  • Not coordinating patient care among different providers;

  • Not monitoring their treatment;

  • Not warning them of medication side effects or checking for drug interactions;

  • Failing to admit patients to the hospital when required;

  • Failing to change IV’s and wound dressings as needed;

  • Not consulting the patient chart prior to surgical procedures;

  • Performing unnecessary surgeries;

  • Prematurely discharging patients and not providing appropriate aftercare;

  • Being under the influence.


Compensation For Negligence and Medical Malpractice


According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, studies indicate that medical mistakes and errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. In terms of ranking, this puts them behind heart disease and cancer and ahead of respiratory illnesses. Negligence among medical providers and medical malpractice claim the lives of more than 250,000 people-representing nearly 10 percent of all deaths-and put over 35 million other people in hospitals each year.


Negligence and medical malpractice can have immediate impacts on your health, resulting in serious personal injuries. They can also have long term impacts, resulting in permanent disabilities that shorten your lifespan and reduce your overall quality of life. As these could have been prevented had you received the proper case, you have the right to hold those at fault accountable in either case through a medical malpractice or personal injury claim.


Depending on the situation, you may be entitled to compensation through insurance companies representing the doctor, surgeon, hospital, or other providers. If your claim is denied or the amount offered fails to cover your damages, you may also have the right to file a lawsuit against those involved. Compensation available includes:


  • Economic damages, which cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other tangible costs you incur due to your injuries;

  • Non-economic damages, which compensate you for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment in life;

  • Punitive damages, which is an additional amount designed to punish the provider for particularly willful and negligent behavior.


Reach Out To Our Aiken Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Attorney


Negligence and medical malpractice on the part of doctors, nurses, hospitals, staff, and other care providers can have serious impacts on your own or a loved one's health. They can result in serious personal injuries, long term disabilities, and in a worst case scenario, may hasten an early death. As these outcomes could have otherwise been prevented had you received the proper care, you have the right to hold those at fault accountable.


At The Surasky Law Firm, you can count on us to provide the caring support and professional legal representation you need in this type of situation. With decades’ worth of experience representing clients in our community, we act as a trusted legal advocate on your behalf. To discuss your particular case and the best way to get the compensation you are entitled to, reach out today and call or contact our office online. We will be happy to schedule you a one-on-one consultation with our Aiken personal injury and medical malpractice attorney.

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