Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Medical malpractice is a serious problem that plagues many of the world’s hospitals and health care centers. When a health care practitioner fails to fulfill the standards of care within the medical industry, patients can suffer life-changing injuries. Making careless mistakes, practicing under the influence, failing to communicate with others and many other errors could prevent a patient from receiving the medical care he or she needs to survive. Learning the difference between medical malpractice and negligence from a legal standpoint could help you understand if you have a civil claim against someone in Arizona.

Arizona’s Definition of Medical Malpractice

Arizona lawmakers define medical malpractice as a health care provider’s failure to exercise the proper degree of care and skill, resulting in damages to a patient. Medical malpractice refers specifically to negligence by a doctor, hospital or other health care provider, not by another person or type of professional. Medical malpractice has its own rules and statutes for how you may file a claim and seek financial recovery in Arizona.

  • Statute of limitations. You have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim for medical malpractice in the state of Arizona. The courts keep strictly to this statute of limitations; if you miss your deadline, you will most likely lose your right to file.
  • Discovery rule. If you do not discover the medical malpractice for months or years after the date of medical care (e.g. a foreign object left in your body after surgery), the statute of limitations will not begin until the date of discovery.
  • Medical expert certification. Your lawyer must provide proof of the defendant’s negligence before the courts will hear the lawsuit. This proof typically takes the form of an affidavit of merit with a medical expert’s signature verifying the validity of the claim.

Medical malpractice can take many different shapes. It can refer to any failure to adhere to the expected standards of care for the medical profession, including surgical errors and medication mistakes. If a professional with the same job would have done something differently, your doctor could be guilty of medical malpractice. A successful medical malpractice lawsuit could help you recover compensation for many different losses.

What Is Negligence?

Medical malpractice is a type of negligence, but negligence does not always refer to medical malpractice. Negligence has a broader definition. It can refer to anyone’s failure to exercise a reasonable duty of care. A driver could be guilty of negligence, for example, if he or she texts and drives and causes a car accident. A civil claim based on negligence does not necessarily have to involve the medical profession. A victim can bring a civil claim for damages after any type of negligence that causes physical injuries, property damage, emotional distress or other damages.

Negligence can become medical malpractice if a health care provider breaches a duty of care that ends in injury to a patient. If a patient’s condition worsens or the patient experiences unreasonable complications because of a doctor’s failure to apply the proper standards of care, the doctor’s negligence has fulfilled the definition of medical malpractice. To have grounds for a medical malpractice or negligence claim, a victim needs four main elements.

The four elements of a civil claim are the same for negligence and medical malpractice claims. The elements are duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages. The person allegedly guilty of malpractice or negligence (the defendant) must have owed the victim a duty of care, failed to adhere to this duty and caused the victim’s injuries. Then, the victim must have suffered damages because of the defendant’s breach of duty. Damages can include physical and nonphysical injuries. If you believe you have grounds for a medical malpractice or negligence claim in Arizona, use a Glendale medical malpractice attorney to guide you through the legal process.