Medical malpractice and medical negligence are two terms that are often confused. Many people in Massachusetts use these labels interchangeably, but they actually mean different things. Learning about the difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence can help you determine which term applies to your situation.
What is medical malpractice in Massachusetts?
Medical malpractice is an action taken or not taken by a health care provider that results in injury to a patient. The medical professional knows that their actions are risky, but they proceed anyway. To prove malpractice, the plaintiff must show that the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care and that this deviation resulted in injury.
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence is defined as a failure to provide proper medical care that results in injury or death. Unlike in medical malpractice, the health care provider doesn’t know that their actions could have negative consequences. For example, a surgeon can accidentally puncture an organ during an operation or give the wrong dose of anesthesia.
The main difference between the two is the element of intent. In medical malpractice cases, you must prove that the medical professional failed to follow the proper standard of care required of them when administering treatment. Their intention doesn’t have to be malicious. Simply showing that another doctor or nurse would have taken alternative measures to address the issue can suffice.
On the other hand, medical negligence is a mistake that leads to unintended harm. However, you should show evidence that if the medical professional used the degree of care that a prudent and careful provider would have used under similar circumstances, that harm wouldn’t have occurred.
Regardless of whether your injury resulted from medical malpractice or negligence, you deserve to receive compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering while correcting that health care professional’s mistake. Your doctor or nurse owes you a standard duty of care; therefore, you shouldn’t be in a worse situation after getting help in any health care facility in Massachusetts. If you are a victim, you must file a suit within three years of discovering your injuries in order to have a claim.