Medical Negligence vs. Malpractice

June 17, 2022

Individuals count on medical professionals, and they should not have to worry about a mistake being made when they seek medical assistance. However, there are times when errors do occur, and medical professionals can be held responsible. Here, we want to look specifically at medical negligence versus medical malpractice. The reality is that malpractice arises out of negligence, and there are four elements of negligence required for a medical malpractice claim to be viable.

What is Medical Malpractice?

In order to understand how medical negligence and medical malpractice are alike, we want to examine the actual definition of medical malpractice. First, we should clarify that when defining medical malpractice, you are going to see the word “negligence.”

Medical professionals could face a malpractice claim if they are negligent in their duties to their patients. In other words, negligent actions by a medical professional can lead to a medical malpractice claim. In essence, malpractice and negligence are one and the same (one leads to the other).

When a doctor or any other medical professional establishes a relationship with a patient (often referred to as the doctor-patient relationship), the medical professional is required to uphold a certain level of care. You will see this referred to as the “medical standard of care” in the field. This medical standard of care is defined as the type and level of care that a competent and skilled medical professional with a similar background and in the same type of medical community would provide under similar circumstances.

There are various ways that patients could be harmed as a result of the negligence of a medical provider in West Virginia. Some of the more common ways that medical malpractice claims arise involve negligence surrounding:

  • Failures to diagnose
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Giving the wrong dosage of a medication
  • A misdiagnosis
  • Failing to obtain a patient medical history
  • Not following up on tests ordered for a patient
  • Surgical or anesthesia errors
  • Failing to follow up with a patient after procedures

This is not a complete list of the types of mistakes that medical professionals can make that can lead to patient harm. Any individual who thinks that they or a loved one has sustained an injury or illness caused by the actions of a medical professional needs to reach out to a skilled Martinsburg medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

The Elements of “Negligence” for a Medical Malpractice Claim

In order for a malpractice claim to be successful against a medical professional, there are four elements that must be in place that an attorney will need to ensure are present for the claim:

  • Duty. It must be established that there was a professional relationship between the doctor or other medical professional and the patient. If this relationship has been established, then the medical standard of care mentioned above applies.
  • Breach. After establishing that there was a doctor-patient relationship, it must be shown that the medical professional somehow breached their duty of care to the patient.
  • Causation. After showing that there was a breach of duty of care with evidence and expert witness assistance, it must be shown that the breach actually caused the patient’s injury or illness.
  • Damages. Finally, it must be shown that the patient suffered some sort of monetary loss as a result of the breach of duty. This can include medical bills, lost income, emotional and psychological suffering, and more.


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