Negligence and Malpractice

The terms negligence and malpractice are frequently used interchangeably. However, there is a difference in the two terms.

Negligence is:

Anyone, including non-medical persons, can be liable for negligence.

Malpractice a more specific term that looks at a standard of care as well as the professional status of the caregiver. To be liable for malpractice, the person committing the wrong must be a professional.

The courts define malpractice as the failure of a professional person to act in accordance with the prevailing professional standards, or failure to foresee consequences that a professional person, having the necessary skills and education, should foresee.

The same types of acts may form the basis for negligence or malpractice.

In order to prove negligence or malpractice, the following elements must be established:

There are different levels of responsibility or liability for malpractice.

Brent, Nancy J. (1997). Nurses and the Law. W.B. Saunders.

Feutz-Harter, Sheryl. (1993). Nursing and the Law. Professional Education Systems, Inc.

Wacker Guido, Ginny. (1988). Legal Issues in Nursing. Appleton and Lange.

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