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What Is The Difference Between Medical Errors & Malpractice?

What Is The Difference Between Medical Errors & Malpractice?


Regarding healthcare, trust is a critical component that underlines the patient-doctor relationship. This connection is built around expectations and responsibilities. When something goes wrong, distinguishing between inadvertent errors and calculated negligence becomes crucial. The differences between these occurrences are intricate but essential. Understanding the differences will give you insight into the standards and ethics that govern healthcare.

Understanding Medical Errors

Medical errors represent unintended acts or omissions during medical care. Diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare can surface at any healthcare delivery phase. Instances of medical errors can range from misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. For example, when a healthcare professional incorrectly identifies a patient’s medical condition, prescribes an ineffective medication, or even administers the incorrect medication or dosage. Surgical and anesthesia errors, whether operating on the wrong body part or administering improper anesthesia levels, also fall under this category. The vital piece here is that not every medical error equates to malpractice. Errors can emanate from many factors, including system failures and human error.

Understanding Medical Malpractice

Conversely, medical malpractice has legal ramifications. It refers to a deviation from a healthcare professional’s accepted standard of care. This deviation then results in the patient being harmed. Would another healthcare professional act the same way in a similar circumstance? If not, it may mean that the medical professional failed to provide the standard of care. 

Failing to do so can substantiate a malpractice claim. It’s imperative to demonstrate that the healthcare professional, who has a professional relationship with the patient, has a duty of care towards the patient. Subsequently, this duty was breached because they needed to adhere to the standard of care. This breach resulted in harm to the patient. Unlike medical errors, malpractice is strictly connected with a breach of the standard of care.

Medical Error or Malpractice?

Discerning between medical errors and malpractice is essential. The implications of each vary substantially. While medical errors are often unintentional and can be attributed to various contributing factors, medical malpractice is linked to negligence and a breach of professional duty of care. This breach sets malpractice apart from other medical errors—failing to meet the expected standards of care can lead to legal repercussions.

The line between medical errors and malpractice might seem confusing, but understanding each is paramount. The repercussions of both are severe, impacting lives and altering faith in medical practitioners and the healthcare system at large. To navigate these situations and ascertain the true nature of a perceived medical shortcoming, seeking clarification through a personal injury attorney is imperative.

Get Just Compensation 

If you find yourself in a situation where you suspect you’ve been a victim of either medical error or malpractice and need clarification and potential legal representation, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation with Silberstein, Awad & Miklos. With an unwavering commitment to justice and a reputation for aggressively representing clients and pursuing cases to the highest levels of the court, the firm assists those seeking legal recourse in medical disputes. They epitomize the relentless pursuit of justice, echoing a passion for helping individuals, even in cases others might shy away from.