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Medical Malpractice

Medical Negligence vs. Malpractice, Hospital Negligence vs. Physician Malpractice: What’s the Difference?

April 14, 2023

The terminology surrounding medical malpractice claims can be quite confusing, especially for non-lawyers. Understanding these basic terms, however, can help you better understand your options. Whether or not you are struggling with the terminology, however, you should seek advice from a medical negligence lawyer if you have suffered harm at the hands of a healthcare provider. 

Reviewing the Basics of Medical Malpractice

It may be helpful to first review the basic elements of a medical malpractice case. In order to receive compensation, you must be able to prove four things: 

  1. That the medical provider owed you, their patient, a duty of care; 
  2. That the medical provider breached that duty by deviating from the recognized standard of care; and 
  3. That their deviation from the standard of care caused you harm. 

Note that you do not need to prove that the provider intended to cause you harm. The first element – that they owed you a duty of care – is rarely at issue. The challenge in most medical malpractice cases is establishing the standard of care and then proving that there is a causal connection between the harm you suffered and their failure to meet the standard of care. 

Most patients do not know whether their healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care. All they know is that they have suffered serious side effects or other injuries as a result of their treatment that they did not expect. Thankfully, you do not have to try to determine whether you have a medical malpractice case on your own. If you have suffered harm as a result of receiving medical treatment, a medical malpractice lawyer can provide you with the guidance you need. 

Medical Negligence

Generally speaking, negligence is the failure to take due care to avoid causing reasonably foreseeable injury. In the context of medical treatment, therefore, negligence would occur when a healthcare provider fails to take the appropriate steps to avoid causing harm to their patients that are reasonably foreseeable. It is also important to note that the healthcare provider does not intend to cause harm, they are simply failing to take reasonable precautions. 

Beyond this point, medical negligence becomes more difficult to define. This may be due to different laws in different states. In some instances, “medical negligence” refers to an error or omission that does not result in harm. In other instances, “medical negligence” is used to describe less serious cases, while using the term “medical malpractice” to describe gross negligence or reckless behavior.  

The reality is that medical malpractice is negligence, and neither Wyoming nor Montana law really distinguishes between medical negligence and medical malpractice. If your doctor or other medical professional was negligent in some way, you may have a medical malpractice claim if you can prove that their negligence caused you harm. 

It is important to emphasize, however, that you do have to prove that their negligence caused you harm. If you cannot prove this, you do not have a claim. Otherwise, you do not have to worry about whether your medical provider was negligent or they committed medical malpractice. Ultimately, the best thing to do is contact an experienced medical negligence lawyer if you believe you have been harmed by your medical provider. 

Hospital Negligence vs. Physician Malpractice  

Hospital negligence typically refers to when mistakes are made at the institutional level that results in harm to the patient. Some examples of hospital negligence include the following: 

  • Medication errors
  • Infections arising from unsanitary conditions
  • Ineffective emergency protocols
  • Communication errors result in delays in treatment or providing the wrong treatment

Physician malpractice, on the other hand, is when a particular doctor is responsible for the harm that resulted from negligence. 

That may seem obvious, but the distinction is very important when it comes to determining who may be held responsible for any harm that you may have suffered. Hospitals are generally not liable for malpractice or negligence committed by the doctors who practice there unless the doctor is an employee of the hospital (such as an emergency room physician). That said, hospitals can be held liable for malpractice committed by nurses, as nurses are generally the employees of the hospitals where they work. 

Determining who you should pursue in a malpractice claim can be quite complicated. There are instances where you may have to pursue a claim against both the hospital and the individual provider. A medical negligence lawyer will know who you should pursue so that you can receive the compensation you deserve. 

Call Ragain & Clark to Talk to a Medical Negligence Lawyer Today

If you have been harmed as a result of medical malpractice or negligence, get the help you need to move forward. Contact Ragain & Clark to schedule a free consultation by calling 406-651-8888 (Billings) or 307-388-6400 (Worland).


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