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Is There a Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence?

April 19, 2021

No. There’s no difference

We’re asked this question frequently by those with potential medical malpractice (or negligence) cases, and the two phrases are exactly the same.

First, let’s talk about medical malpractice or medical negligence. To succeed in a case of medical malpractice or medical negligence, an injured patient must demonstrate that the healthcare provider acted negligently in providing care, and the negligence caused an injury. The legal elements to be proven are:

  • The healthcare provider breached the standard of care;
  • The patient’s injury was caused by the breach; and
  • The patient suffered damages.

Money damages, if awarded, typically are for both actual economic loss (such as wage loss) and noneconomic loss (such as pain and suffering).

Know that in Michigan, the law caps or limits the amount of damages in malpractice cases. Michigan caps non-economic damages in personal injury claims. In 2020, the limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims is $851,000 (the upper limit exception for specific types of injuries) and $476,600 (the lower cap).

What is Ordinary Negligence?

There are rare instances when simple or ordinary negligence may apply to medical malpractice cases. For instance, when a receptionist fails to enter a referral to a specialist into the medical records at a doctor’s office.

It’s important to know that when there’s a claim for ordinary negligence, the damage cap is removed. As a result, a jury will not be limited in their non-economic damages award of a patient.

What is Gross Negligence?

This is an important concept in Michigan medical malpractice law.

“Gross negligence” is defined as “conduct so reckless as to demonstrate a substantial lack of concern for whether an injury results.”

In some cases, this standard is applied to emergency responders. That’s Michigan Statute § 333.20965(1) states that these persons are immune from liability “[u]nless an act or omission is the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct…” so, a first responder, emergency medical technician, or paramedic who’s acting in a reasonable manner can’t be sued for negligence if:

  1. The action or inaction happens while treating a patient outside a hospital, in a hospital before hospital personnel take over the patient’s care, or in a clinical setting; and
  2. The treatment is consistent with the responder’s licensure or required training, or with an approved procedure for the responder’s educational program.

This immunity under Michigan law doesn’t apply if the emergency medical responder’s act or omission amounts to gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Contact us!

For a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We can discuss your situation if you believe you’ve been injured as the result of a misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis, or an error in surgery.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.

Contact us today!