If you've recently had a negative experience at a local doctor's office, hospital, dental office, or any other medical facility, then you might be wondering whether or not you have grounds to file a lawsuit against the responsible medical professional in court. All too often, the terms "medical negligence" and "medical malpractice" are used interchangeably. In reality, however, they are vastly different. Before you decide to bring your situation to court or even hire a lawyer, it's important for you to understand the difference between the two charges and determine which (if any) applies to your current situation.

Medical Negligence Explained

In a case of medical negligence, your doctor or other medical professional made a mistake without any wrongful intent and without any negative health consequences to you. An example of such a case could be a situation where a doctor prescribed a medication to you but failed to inform you of possible side effects. You may be upset to read about the side effects on your prescription bottle later on, but as long as you don't suffer any of the side effects as a result, your doctor can't be charged with anything more than negligence.

Of course, a negligence case still shouldn't be taken lightly. However, a negligence charge isn't nearly as bad as a malpractice charge.

Medical Malpractice Explained

Medical malpractice, on the other hand, is characterized by a medical mistake made by a professional with intent and injury as a result. An example of this would be a situation where a surgeon purposely took some "shortcuts" and skipped over some important safety procedures when performing a surgery. As a result, the surgeon accidentally left a small piece of gauze inside the patient's incision, which resulted in a serious and life-threatening infection. 

In this case, it could be proven that the surgeon had negative intent because he or she intentionally skipped important safety protocol and caused serious bodily harm to the patient as a result. In some cases, a medical malpractice conviction can result in a medical professional losing his or her license to practice. In this sense, such a conviction could end a career.

If you're thinking about going to court over a mistake made by a medical professional, carefully consider which of these definitions best applies to your situation. From there, speak with a lawyer such as McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C.who specializes in that specific type of case as soon as possible.