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Malpractice vs. Negligence - What's The Difference?

Gallagher Healthcare :: Industry Insights
By Gallagher Healthcare | 7/21/2023

Malpractice vs. Negligence — What Is the Difference Between Malpractice and Negligence?

The terms negligence and malpractice are often used interchangeably in the medical field. However, there are some critical differences between the terms. This article discusses the differences between medical malpractice and negligence and whether a patient can sue for negligence.

What Is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence describes a medical provider's failure to exercise a reasonable, appropriate or ethical standard of care. In other words, if a medical provider does not provide the same quality and standard of care a patient might expect to receive elsewhere from another similarly qualified provider, this is considered medical negligence. Generally, negligence is unintentional and caused by carelessness.

Examples of medical negligence might include:

  • Failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.
  • Administering the wrong type or amount of medication.
  • Preventable surgical mistakes and other medical errors.

However, negligence is also a general term that can apply to non-medical professionals. Anyone can be held liable for negligence.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

On the other hand, medical malpractice occurs when medical negligence or other circumstances result in a patient's injury, significant losses or death. To be held liable for medical malpractice, the person who caused the injury must be a licensed medical professional who has failed to comply with their profession's prevailing standards of care.

For example, if a medical provider prescribes the wrong type of medication after disregarding a patient's medical history and this causes the patient harm or death, this is considered medical malpractice.

Can Patients Sue for Negligence?

In short, yes, a patient can sue a provider for negligence. However, four main criteria determine whether a medical negligence lawsuit can proceed as a medical malpractice case:

  • The medical provider must have a professional duty owed to the patient.
  • The medical provider's negligence breached that duty.
  • The provider's negligence resulted in patient injury or death.
  • There is an established or traceable link between the injury and the provider.

Contact Gallagher Healthcare Today to Request a Quote

If you are ready to take the next step toward protecting your medical practice, specialty group or clinic from malpractice claims, turn to Gallagher Healthcare. As one of the largest insurance brokerages in the world, our advisors have the expertise to answer your questions and help you choose the coverage that serves your needs.

Our professionals have helped over 60,000 physicians secure cost-effective coverage that protects their practices, allowing them to focus on serving their patients with the quality of care they deserve. Request a quote online today!

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