The Difference Between Medical Negligence and Malpractice in Texas

Medical malpractice is a very serious concern for thousands of Americans.  The term “medical malpractice” is a general term that covers the entire field of injuries and complications caused by healthcare providers.  “Medical negligence” is a type of medical malpractice, but also refers to the legal theory that a healthcare provider’s oversights and unintentional faults caused your injury.
If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice or medical negligence, it is important to talk to a Plano personal injury attorney.  Especially if you’ve lost a loved one to medical complications, surgical errors, or misdiagnosis, you may have grounds to sue the healthcare providers.  If you are in Texas, consider taking your case to the Dallas personal injury attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm.

Defining Medical Malpractice in Texas

“Medical malpractice” is an entire field of law, with many different types of cases and particular rules.  In general, “malpractice” refers to a situation where a professional does their job improperly.  This includes breaching ethical rules, general misconduct, and negligent activity.  “Malpractice” is most often discussed with regard to lawyers and doctors, but it can encompass many different medical professions as well.  While “medical malpractice” usually refers to the malpractice of doctors, there is also nursing malpractice, hospital malpractice, and even dental malpractice.
If you received poor healthcare, you may be the victim of medical malpractice.  It is important to understand, though, that not every case with a bad outcome is a case of medical malpractice.  Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are not miracle workers; they do what they can, and what medical science allows them to do, to help patients get better.  Just because a patient died, their condition got worse, or they suffered injury before getting better does not automatically mean malpractice.
Because of this, medical malpractice cases often deal with what the “standard of care” is.  The standard of care is the proper level of care that a healthcare provider should give a patient.  This is not a checklist or a definitive definition, but is based on the patient’s particular situation and the information the healthcare professional had available.
Usually, to prove the standard of care in a medical malpractice case, each side hires “expert witnesses” – doctors or other healthcare professionals who can testify to how the case should have been handled.  If the doctor being accused of malpractice handled everything correctly, then there was no malpractice.  If their level of care fell below the standard, then there was medical malpractice.
Typical types of medical malpractice include:

  • Anesthesia errors
  • Birth injuries
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose and screening problems
  • Failure to properly monitor patients
  • Hospital negligence
  • Informed consent issues
  • Medical negligence
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Nursing home negligence or abuse
  • Practicing without a license
  • Prescription medication allergies / errors
  • Surgical errors

No matter what type of medical or dental negligence you or your loved one suffered, you may have a case against the healthcare providers.  This can help you get compensation for your injuries, financial losses, and pain and suffering.

Defining Medical Negligence in Texas

Medical negligence can describe two things.  First, “medical negligence” is sometimes used interchangeably with “medical malpractice” to describe the field or encompass all types of medical malpractice cases.  Other times, the term focuses on the “negligence” aspect, and describes the legal theory behind a medical malpractice claim.
“Negligence” is a legal term that refers to someone’s failure to take the proper care in doing something.  This is often the grounds for many different types of lawsuits, especially personal injury lawsuits.  The legal claim is that you were harmed because of someone else’s negligence, and the court should make them compensate you for the negative effects (such as injury, expenses, other financial harms, and mental suffering).
In order to prove negligence in court, you need to prove four elements:

  1. The defendant owed you a duty.
  2. The defendant breached that duty.
  3. The breach caused you harm.
  4. There is some harm you can prove in court, and the court can compensate you for (called “damages”).

This same pattern is used to prove any medical malpractice case.
The standard of care the doctor owed is the duty element.  When the doctor’s treatment falls below the standard of care, they breach their duty.  Further, you need to prove that the breach actually caused your injury.  Finally, you prove what your injuries are, such as extra medical bills, further pain, or even a loved one’s death.
This pattern holds true for any medical malpractice case, which is why the terms “medical malpractice” and “medical negligence” may be interchangeable.  Although, “medical negligence” can also refer more specifically to the legal theory on which a case is based.

Texas Medical Malpractice Lawyers Offering Free Consultations

If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice or medical negligence, it is very important to take your case to an experienced medical malpractice attorney.  The Dallas medical malpractice lawyers at The Queenan Law firm may be able to help you get compensation for your medical injuries.  Call (817) 476-1797 today for a free consultation.