You may be considering a lawsuit if you have been injured due to negligent medical care. You have probably heard the terms medical negligence and medical malpractice mentioned. You may even have seen or heard them used interchangeably. However, this is not actually the case, and there is a difference between the two. Suppose you are seeking a medical negligence lawyer. In that case, it is helpful to know that this is a sub-category of medical malpractice law, so if your lawyer is listed as a medical malpractice lawyer, they are still going to be qualified to handle a medical negligence case.

Let's take a closer look at the differences between medical negligence and medical malpractice.

What is Medical Negligence?

For a case to be considered medical negligence, a doctor or other healthcare professional causes injury or harm to a patient either through fundamental ignorance or failing to administer the appropriate treatment when required. One example of medical negligence could be if a doctor prescribes medication without checking the patient's existing prescription record, resulting in dangerous drug interactions. Another example could include failing to provide the proper aftercare following a surgical procedure resulting in complications. In these instances, the doctor most likely did not purposely intend to harm the patient, but they were negligent in their approach to patient care, resulting in injury or harm. In both of these examples, a medical negligence lawyer could help you to file a lawsuit and recover damages based on how your life has been impacted.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice can occur in the same situations as medical negligence. However, the medical professional will be aware of their choices' potential consequences and proceed regardless of the risk to the patient. One of the most common reasons for a medical negligence lawyer to be consulted in regard to medical malpractice is for surgical errors. An example of medical malpractice during surgery would be if the doctor failed to sterilize the surgical tools used during the procedure correctly. If they knew this step had not been taken but decided to operate anyway, it would be considered malpractice.

Understanding the Difference

One of the key differences between medical negligence and medical malpractice is the doctor's awareness of the situation. In a medical negligence case, the doctor would be unaware of the consequences, albeit because of their own failure to follow procedures correctly. With medical malpractice, in most cases, the doctor would be aware of the potential for injury if they take, or fail to take, certain action but decides to move forward regardless. In either situation, a medical negligence lawyer can work with you to file a lawsuit and recover damages to help pay for medical expenses and loss of earnings.

Not All Negative Outcomes Are Negligence or Malpractice

It is important to note that just because a medical procedure went wrong or did not produce the results that you hoped for, it is not automatically grounds to contact a medical negligence lawyer. All prescriptions carry potential side effects, and any medical procedure will have inherent risks that might happen even if every process is followed to the letter of the law. However, your doctor should make you aware of these risks or potential side effects ahead of time, allowing you the chance to give informed consent. For example, before surgery, you should be informed about the inherent risks of anesthesia, such as the potential for an allergic reaction. The patient can then decide to continue knowing this is a very small possibility. If they then have an anaphylactic reaction, this is not medical negligence because they were made aware that despite the doctor's best efforts, this was also a possibility. However, if you can prove that the doctor did not discuss these risks with you and that you would not have agreed to the procedure if you had been aware, then you can file a case for informed consent negligence. This is something that a medical negligence lawyer will be able to help you with as well.


Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice LawBirth Injury LawTrucking Accident LawPersonal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at or call 865-637-3531.

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