A person has gone in for some medical treatment to a private doctor, hospital, nursing home or outpatient facility. Upon leaving, he/she has come out the worse for the experience. The question is what happened? Could the result have been avoided? The questions grow and become even greater in scope and the physical consequences or injuries as a result of the medical treatment sought, become more grave and longer lasting. However, two words keep coming up: medical negligence (malpractice) and clinical negligence. The difference between the two is with what this article will deal.
Depending whether one resides in the United States, the United Kingdom or another country, medical negligence (malpractice) and clinical negligence are terms which actually have a difference and which are sometimes used interchangeably and incorrectly. However, let us briefly examine the difference between the two terms, medical negligence and clinical negligence, as they are often confused by the public and need to be clarified.
Medical negligence (malpractice) is the omission by an act by a health care provider in which the care or treatment provided deviates from standards of practice in the medical community. Injury or death to the patient. In generaly, medical negligence cases are more expensive and difficult to prove.
Medical negligence are the types of cases which often require attorneys for the plaintiff (those bringing the complaint) to prove four necessary elements against a defendant (those against whom the complaint is brought). Medical negligence cases can also go on for prolonged periods of time.(1)
The four elements which must be presented by a medical negligence and/or malpractice attorney are:
1. A duty was owed: a legal duty exists whenever a hospital or health care provider undertakes care or treatment of a patient.
2. A duty was breached: the provider failed to conform to the relevant standard of care. The standard of care is proved by expert testimony or by obvious errors (res ipsa loquituror the thing speaks for itself).
3. The breach caused an injury: The breach of duty was an approximate cause of the injury.
4. Damages: ithout damages (losses which may be pecuniary or emotional), there is no basis for a claim. (1)
The defining line between medical negligence and clinical is fine and needs many times needs clarification as to the difference between the two.The misuse of these terms can lead to confusion to the injured party in making a right decision.
Clinical negligence, is a term that could be applied to the wrongdoing of a medical practitioner. These may include: a doctor, therapist, nurse, pharmacist or other medical professional that provide varying types of care. When someone alleges clinical negligence it means that either by omission or straying from treatment standards, the practitioner has caused some form of injury. This could be a physical, as well as emotional injury that seriously impacts the person’s life.
It doesn’t mean that the medical professional was incompetent. It can just mean that in that particular case, he/she made a mistake which he/she shouldn’t have. Clinical negligence includes things such as: making a mistake during surgery; giving you the wrong drug; or making the wrong diagnosis or delaying a diagnosis or treatment unnecessarily.
Clinical negligence also may include not doing things that should be done, such as: not giving a treatment needed; not getting a consent to treatment; or not warning about the risks of a particular type of treatment. If a victim of clinical negligence, one may be able to claim compensation.
In essence, clinical negligence describes a medical accident where a patient has been harmed, not because of a complication which couldn’t be avoided, but because a health care professional did not give the proper standard of care. (2)
It is important with ever increasing cases in the health care industry of both medical and clinical negligence, that the public be aware of the difference between the two terms. It is also critically important to know what can be done in such a case having once determined there has been injury of some sort suffered.
(1) Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_malpractice
(2) WiseGeek. http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-negligence.htm
Authored by Beverly Anne Sanchez, 2010