What Is Medical Malpractice – And Is it Deliberate or Accidental?

surgeons operating

According to a 2016 study at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. 

The study showed that, incredibly, approximately 251,000 people die each year due to medical errors. 

What is medical malpractice?

A hospital, a doctor, or another healthcare professional is expected to provide a certain standard of care to patients. 

While the facility or healthcare professional isn’t liable for all harm a patient could experience, they are legally responsible for harm or injury to patients when the quality of care that’s expected is deviated from. 

In order to have a case for medical malpractice, one or more of the following factors needs to be involved:

  • The facility or healthcare professional failed to provide the correct standard of care.
  • An injury resulted from provable negligence.
  • The injury caused damaging consequences, such as constant pain, suffering, disability, enduring hardship, or a considerable loss of income.

As an aside, if you experience a disability from medical malpractice, you should find out how to live easier with your disability.


Is medical malpractice deliberate or accidental?

Whether medical malpractice is deliberate or accidental comes down to intent. 

The extent to which a healthcare professional’s actions deviate from the accepted medical standard of care will help to determine whether an injury is caused by an unintentional mistake that’s avoidable or an intentional act. 

When the injury that’s caused is unintentional, it’s known as medical negligence. When it’s intentional, it’s medical malpractice. 

But with both medical negligence and medical malpractice, you can file a lawsuit to claim compensation for your injury. 

Because medical malpractice is intentional and medical negligence isn’t, medical malpractice is a graver charge than medical negligence. Medical negligence is much more common than medical malpractice.

Types of Malpractice and Negligence

Examples of cases in which medical malpractice or negligence could lead to a lawsuit include the following:

  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose.
  • Unnecessary or incorrect surgery.
  • Leaving items inside a patient’s body after surgery.
  • Operating on the wrong part of a patient’s body.
  • Failure to order appropriate tests or to act on the results of tests.
  • Prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage or medication.
  • Premature discharge from a hospital or other healthcare facility.

Obtaining Compensation and Proving Medical Malpractice or Negligence

If you’re a victim of medical malpractice or negligence, you have the opportunity to file a lawsuit to bring the facility, doctor, or another healthcare professional to account for their actions and be awarded the compensation you deserve. 

So, when a doctor injures you, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can help you explore your legal options and assist you in obtaining financial compensation. 

In order to prove medical malpractice or negligence, with the assistance of your attorney, you must prove that:

  • The healthcare provider owed a duty of care.
  • The duty was breached because the healthcare provider didn’t conform to the expected standards of care.
  • The breach resulted in your injury or was closely linked to your injury.
  • The injury resulted in considerable damage for the patient, whether that was physical, emotional, or financial damage.

What damages can you receive?

There are two types of damages that you could be awarded after winning a medical malpractice case. They are compensatory damages and punitive damages. The former includes economic damages, such as medical costs, life care expenses, and lost earning capacity. 

Compensatory damages can also include non-economic damages, based on the severity of your injuries. For instance, you may be able to claim non-economic damages when an injury causes physical or psychological harm, extreme pain, or emotional distress. 

Punitive damages are only awarded when the defendant is found to be guilty of malicious or willful misconduct. Basically, punitive damages punish the guilty defendant.