Many times the term “medical negligence” is used interchangeably with “medical malpractice,” and for certain purposes, this is perfectly acceptable. However, legally medical negligence is just one required legal element of a meritorious, or legally valid, medical malpractice claim.
The following is the legal definition of medical negligence:
“An act or omission by a medical professional that deviates from accepted and reasonable standards of medical care.”
Regarding the application of medical malpractice law, medical negligence is often the legal concept that the case hinges upon, from the perspective of “legal fault.” Negligence on its own is not enough to merit a medical malpractice claim, but when negligence results in the injury of the patient, there is a chance that a case of medical malpractice is present. Read on in order to find out more about how to establish a case using medical negligence. This information could help you know if you have grounds for a medical malpractice suit in the event that medical negligence resulted in you sustaining serious injuries.
Negligence is a commonly applied legal theory that usually comes into play when assessing who is at fault in an injury claim. It is helpful to think of a tort case as a civil injury case. A common example of a tort case, and a helpful way to explain the function of negligence, is to consider a driver who is in a car crash on the road. In a vehicle collision, negligence is usually established when a driver caused the accident — by breaching their legal duty of care to obey all traffic regulations and driver responsibly on the road — and that person is then held liable for the damages sustained by injured parties also involved in the accident.
An example could be a driver that fails to stop at a red traffic light. The driver would be seen to be negligent according to the law, and they would have also violated a traffic regulation. If the failure to stop at the light caused a crash, then the negligent motorist would be liable — more often than not through an insurance provider — to pay for any damages experienced by other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, that resulted from running the traffic light.
Understanding Medical Negligence
In the previous section, we took a look at negligence regarding the legal duty of a driver that is owed to others on the roadway when operating a car with reasonable care under the given circumstances. Now, let’s look at how negligence applies in the realm of health care.
Similar to motorists, doctors, and medical professionals also have a legal obligation to provide reasonable care to their patients and to offer treatment that is within the medical standard of care. This is often defined as the level and quality of care that a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare professional, with a similar background in the medical community, would have provided under similar circumstances. These situations could lead to alleged cases of malpractice.
In essence, medical negligence happens when a doctor, dentist, nurse, surgeon or any other medical professional fails to perform their job in a way that is in line with accepted medical standards of care. Considering the car accident analogy, when a doctor provides sub-standard treatment in consideration with the accepted norms of medical care under the given circumstances, then the doctor has failed to live up to his or her duty and would be considered negligent.
Medical Negligence Does Not Always Mean Injury
It is useful to revisit the fact that medical negligence does not always cause an injury to the involved patient. When a motorist runs a stop sign and no crash takes place, the driver remains negligent, regardless if anyone was harmed in the incident. In a similar manner, a doctor or health care professional may not closely follow the appropriate medical standard of care when treating a patient, but if the patient is unharmed and their health not affected, this form of negligence will not lead to a medical practice claim.
When Negligence Becomes Medical Malpractice
In the end, medical negligence can become medical malpractice when a physician’s negligent treatment results in the undue injury of the patient, or makes the condition for the patient worse, causes unreasonable and unexpected medical issues, or requires additional treatment, to name only a few examples of what could be considered injury involving a malpractice case.
To be straightforward, two additional elements, namely legal causation, and damages, are required in order for medical negligence to create the conditions for a valid medical malpractice suit. If the medical negligence on the part of the doctor was not a foreseeable outcome of the patient’s harm (causation), or if the negligence of the doctor did not have a detrimental impact on the patient’s condition (damages), a medical malpractice claim will likely be unsuccessful.
Medical Negligence Accidents in Utah
It has been shown that medical malpractice is more prevalent than you may readily believe. Over 55% of physicians were in some way involved in a medical malpractice case in 2017. This breach of duty on the part of a medical practitioner can take a toll on a family, leaving them feeling like they have no options. It could even result in more severe injuries than present before and leave you in a worsened condition. You need to be prepared in order to protect yourself and your family in the event of being a victim in a medical malpractice case.
Siegfried & Jensen have been helping the Utah community and the surrounding areas for many years now. When you have not been given adequate care by a medical professional, you aren’t alone. We have experience on our side as we have been helping the residents of Utah and the surrounding areas for over 30 years dealing with the aftermath of an incident involving medical malpractice. We aim to provide help to our clients so they can focus on rehabilitation after a serious accident or injury. Please call us today at (801) 845-9000 and talk about your claim with an experienced Utah medical malpractice attorney.
Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.