We often talk about the forms negligence can take, from simple oversight to gross negligence. But the most severe mistreatment in the medical field is medical battery and has many notable differences from regular malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice?
In medicine, negligence is defined as when providers do not meet accepted standards of care. The doctor or facility must provide treatment that is reasonable for the situation. Negligence can be anything from medication dosage errors to misdiagnoses to poor aftercare.
Gross negligence refers to more serious oversight, such as surgical errors — leaving foreign objects like gauze or clamps in the patient or operating on or removing the wrong body part. Extreme medication errors can also be gross negligence, such as providing drugs to a patient with a known allergy.
The distinction between negligence and gross negligence is the recklessness involved. Negligence can be mere human error, while gross negligence requires a higher level of disregard.
What is Medical Battery?
The keyword in medical battery is “intent”. Whereas the very term “negligence” indicates those forms of malpractice which are unintentional, resulting from errors or miscommunication. Medical battery is caused by a physician’s direct and knowledgeable action.
Equally crucial is “consent”. Many medical battery cases result from a doctor acting without the patient’s consent. For instance, an invasive operation performed without proper permission from the patient constitutes medical battery. The exception is emergency situations in which the operation will save the person’s life. Medical battery cases involve harmful contact or offensive touching, situations which will not be confused with negligence.
How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice or Battery?
Negligence is proven by showing the defendant fell below the reasonable standard of care, resulting in an injury. Evidence includes witness testimonies, and medical and financial records. Often the injury’s very existence is in question, followed by whether that injury was caused by a doctor’s action or inaction.
Conversely, medical battery doesn’t require proving an injury exists. Instead, the victim must provide evidence the healthcare professional engaged in unauthorized action. Doing so requires proving the healthcare provider didn’t receive consent.