To most people, the terms “medical malpractice” and “medical negligence” can be used interchangeably. While the two are similar, there are key differences, and if you were harmed due to either, knowing these differences can affect the outcome of your case. Our medical negligence attorneys in Raleigh are providing an in-depth explanation of medical malpractice vs medical negligence and what these terms mean for you.
Medical Malpractice vs. Medical Negligence
In North Carolina, the court recognizes both medical malpractice and medical negligence as “malpractice,” and each have a three year statute of limitations from the time of the injury to file a claim in court. Defining the two, there is a key difference related to intent.
Understanding Medical Negligence
Medical negligence means that a medical professional or practitioner made a mistake and failed to do something that caused harm. While it was completely unintentional, the victim still suffered an injury because of it. For example, administering penicillin to a patient because the doctor forgot to ask if the patient had any allergies or failed to read the medical file, and this led to the patient experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is the failure to provide an acceptable level of care and the patient experiences harm as a result. For example, a doctor not ordering an expensive diagnostic test because the patient was uninsured which caused a misdiagnosis or a delay in treatment is malpractice. The doctor made the decision to not provide a standard level of care and the patient suffered because of it.
Proving Negligence and Malpractice
In North Carolina, it’s difficult to prove both medical malpractice and medical negligence because the plaintiff must prove four factors:
- The defendant who injured you was directly responsible for your care (called “duty of care”)
- Your care showed clear negligence or fell below acceptable standards as determined by medical experts within a similar medical community (“breach of duty of care”)
- The defendant’s intent or negligence directly caused the injuries
- The plaintiff suffered significant and chronic injuries or impairment, including long-term disability or pain and suffering
During the trial, the plaintiff must also provide two specific types of evidence:
- At least one expert medical witness must have a sworn affidavit that they reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records and will testify that there was a breach of duty of care or negligence
- The plaintiff must prove malpractice or negligence by a “preponderance of evidence,” meaning, more likely than not, the injury was caused by the practitioner’s negligence or intent
Winning a Medical Malpractice or Negligence Suit
Because there are so many factors that must be met in order to win a medical malpractice or negligence suit, it’s necessary you have an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorney to take your case. Trying to fight against insurance companies without this knowledge and experience on your side puts you at a serious disadvantage. As soon as you feel you were a victim of negligence or malpractice, it’s important to do the following:
- Contact an attorney immediately
- Request all medical records related to the incident that led to your injury
- Keep records of future medical appointments following the injury, including how this led to time off work, medical bills, and other issues
- Keep a journal of the incident, injuries, and follow-up care so you don’t forget details that you may need during your trial
- Continue to seek medical care to ensure your health and well-being
Schedule a Consultation with a Medical Negligence and Malpractice Attorney in Raleigh Today
If you were a victim of medical negligence or malpractice, we can provide the experienced, aggressive representation you need to help you achieve favorable outcomes in your case. To learn more, reach out to us at 919-615-2473 or fill out the form below to schedule a consultation today.