What is the Difference Between Professional Negligence and Medical Malpractice?

By VSCP LAW

Professional negligence describes what happens when a person who was hired for their specialized skill set fails to perform what they were hired by their client to do. Typically, professional negligence arises in the context of services by accountants, architects, financial advisors, and realtors. Another industry in which professional negligence cases arise is medicine.

Thus, medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence.

But medical malpractice is arguably not as straightforward as other industries in which professional negligence can occur. Below are some of the special requirements and rules that make medical malpractice more complicated than other instances of professional negligence.

NECESSARY ELEMENTS OF A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASE

In order to prove medical malpractice, you have to prove the following four necessary elements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Read this blog post (LINK TO POST RE 4 ELEMENTS OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM) for a complete overview of each necessary element that your medical malpractice attorney has to prove.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS

The most common types of medical malpractice claims include delay in diagnosis, misdiagnosis, failure to act urgently, and surgical errors. Read this blog post (LINK TO “What Kind Of Cases Does A Medical Malpractice Attorney Handle?” post) for a description of each claim.

CATEGORIES OF COMPENSATION IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM

In a medical malpractice claim, your medical malpractice lawyer will fight to get you the highest compensation possible to help you regain your financial footing. Compensation is typically divided into “economic” (that is, quantifiable with documentation) or “non-economic” (that is, not quantifiable with documentation) damages. A third category, punitive damages, requires proof of malice and this is rarely applicable, although still possible, in medical malpractice claims. Economic damages include medical bills, pharmacy bills, and funeral costs. Non-economic damages include loss of the enjoyment of life, humiliation, and pain and suffering. For a more detailed overview of the categories of compensation, click here (LINK TO CATEGORIES OF COMPENSATION POST).

SPECIAL LAWS AND STATUTES THAT APPLY TO MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS IN PENNSYLVANIA

*Statute of Limitations*

In the case of a surviving plaintiff, Pennsylvania law allows you two years from when you knew or should have known that your injury was the result of the defendants’ medical mistake.

In the case of a deceased party, Pennsylvania law allows their loved one two years from the official death date to file a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit.

*MCARE Act*

The Pennsylvania Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (“MCARE”) Act requires that healthcare providers carry a minimum of $500,000 in liability insurance coverage per lawsuit. This ensures that victims of medical negligence can be reasonably compensated for their injuries. As part of the MCARE Act, there’s a special fund that pays claims in excess of the $500,000 in required coverage.

By way of example, let’s assume your medical malpractice attorney files a lawsuit against the doctor who treated you and the hospital where you received the treatment. Each party (the doctor and the hospital) are statutorily required to carry primary insurance for $500,000. On top of that, the MCARE fund can provide an additional $500,000 in recovery per provider. Unfortunately, the process of filing claims and working under the MCARE Act is not very straightforward and requires a medical malpractice lawyer who has vast experience in working under the MCARE Act.

To consult with attorneys who are experienced in the highly specialized area of medical malpractice law, contact VSCP LAW.

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