We go to doctors to cure ourselves. But sometimes, medical professionals can make us sicker than we already were. How? By malpractice or negligence. 

Malpractice vs Negligence is two terms that many interchangeably use. They both bring the same outcome: injury or death to the patient. Although, are they really the same?

In this article, we will learn more about the two.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor intentionally or discreetly causes harm to the patient. The intent here means something a medical professional knows would be fatal for the patient. A malpractice example is giving the wrong drug, not doing a proper body checkup before surgery, etc. Apart from doctors and nurses, hospital supervisors and managers can also be held accountable for hiring unqualified staff.

Some common lawsuits of medical malpractice are:

  1. The diagnosis of the patient didn’t happen correctly.
  2. Doctors or medical professionals didn’t order the appropriate tests.
  3. Medical professionals failed to perform a surgery or made severe errors during the surgery.
  4. The patient received the wrong medications.
  5. Doctors intentionally disregarded the patient’s medical history.

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence occurs when a doctor unintentionally causes harm to the patient. The medical professional didn’t know their action was wrong and hurt the patient by mistake. In medical negligence, patients get hurt due to the professional’s carelessness and ignorance. An example of medical negligence is a doctor leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient after surgery. 

Malpractice vs Negligence: what’s the difference between the two?

At the core, malpractice and negligence have a similar meaning. They bring the same outcome. Medical negligence can be a component of malpractice. Both involve the following:

  • Medical professionals not performing/breaching their duties 
  • An act causing injuries or death

The difference lies in intent and awareness. 

Negligence occurs when medical professionals fail to exercise reasonable care. A simple act of ignorance can have disastrous results. A doctor inadvertently injuring a patient during surgery can harm the patient. The doctor’s intentions weren’t to make the patient suffer but their negligence did.

Malpractice is the dereliction of one’s professional duty. A doctor performing surgery without conducting any tests knowing full well that it may have a negative outcome is malpractice. Their intentions may not be to hurt the patient but it’s intentional because they knew it may have harmed the patient. A doctor treating a patient without consent knowing that the patient may not like it is also malpractice. 

Malpractice can come in different forms. The nurse performing a mistake due to being overworked can be malpractice. The patient can sue the nurse and the hospital supervisor in this regard.

Malpractice vs Negligence: what are some examples?

Some examples of Medical Malpractice are:

  • Doctors prescribing the wrong medicine

Wrong medicines may do nothing or aggravate the problem. Worse, you may develop new diseases due to the wrong medication. Medication errors take place in:

  1. Inaccurate or irresponsible prescribing, over or underprescribing 
  2. Writing an illegible or a wrong prescription
  3. Drug manufacturers make inaccurate strength, components etc.
  4. Drug dispensation selling the wrong and expired drugs  
  5. Patients taking the wrong dose at the wrong frequency and timing
  • Making the wrong diagnosis

Misdiagnosis will do nothing other than worsen your condition. Some common diseases wrongly diagnosed are:

  1. Thyroid 
  2. Heart diseases
  3. Cancer
  4. Stroke
  5. Celiac disease
  6. Pulmonary embolism
  • Delayed diagnosis 

Delayed diagnosis is when medical professionals let the disease progress without providing treatment at the right time. It happens when doctors fail to diagnose the disease. Delayed diagnosis can be fatal for patients with fatal illnesses like cancer.

  • Hospital Infections

Hospitals are the safest place to be when you’re ill, but they can also carry a lot of pathogens and bacteria since the different types of patients visit them. Hospital infections include:

  1. Bloodstream infections
  2. Urinary tract infections
  3. Gastrointestinal infections

Examples of Medical negligence are:

  • Making Mistakes During Surgery

Surgical negligence includes using non-sterile instruments, incorrect procedures, damaging a body part, etc.

  • Injuries during Childbirth 

A few common injuries during childbirth include improper use of forceps, surgical errors, and oxygen depravation to the body. 

  • Anesthesia Errors

Giving the wrong dose of Anaesthesia can be deadly for the patient. In some cases, an overdose of it can kill patients.

Malpractice vs Negligence: What are their Consequences?

Both medical negligence and malpractice can cause severe injuries or damage to the patients. In some cases, patients permanently suffer for the rest of their lives because of a simple error made by the surgeon/nurse. Not to mention the extra cost and time you have to spend too. In the US medical errors is the third leading cause of death in patients. 


With so many medical errors occurring, patients must verify the medical professional’s qualifications before visiting them. Doctors should also be careful while examining their patients and not assume things. Patients put the value of their lives in the doctor’s hands. Medical professionals should respect that.