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Medical Malpractice Versus Medical Negligence in Florida: What’s the Difference?

Robert F. Spohrer

The phrases “medical negligence” and “medical malpractice” are often used interchangeably, but this is technically incorrect. It is important to understand medical malpractice versus medical negligence in Florida and how these phrases could apply to your situation if you have been injured in a medical setting. An experienced attorney can be an invaluable resource for helping you make a clearer sense of your situation.

Defining Medical Malpractice Versus Medical Negligence

The phrase “medical negligence” defines any negligence from a medical professional. This means the medical professional failed to meet the standard of care that their patient required. It is possible for negligence to occur with no harm to the patient. However, if harm does occur, then medical negligence becomes medical malpractice, and the injured patient will have grounds for legal recourse against the medical professional who injured them.

Proving medical negligence is more difficult than proving negligence in a standard personal injury suit. In most personal injury cases, proving negligence requires proof that the defendant owed a duty of care, violated or breached that duty of care somehow, and in so doing, directly harmed the plaintiff. In a medical malpractice case, it is vital to prove that the standard of care that applied in the situation was violated, and this caused harm to the patient.

As part of the filing process for a medical malpractice suit in the state, the plaintiff will need to consult a medical expert who holds the same or greater board certifications as those of the defendant. This individual must provide an affidavit of merit explaining how the defendant’s medical negligence was a violation of the patient’s standard of care, how they harmed the patient, and what should have been done differently in the situation.

Examples of Medical Malpractice in the State

Medical negligence takes many forms, and any form of medical negligence becomes malpractice when it results in patient harm:

  • Misdiagnosis could occur if a doctor incorrectly diagnoses a patient or if they fail to diagnose a patient. This will become malpractice if the diagnostic error results in harm to the patient.
  • Medication errors may happen because of negligence and can easily result in medical malpractice suits. Incorrect medications and/or dosages or failure to account for patient drug allergies are common examples of medication-related negligence that can easily cause tremendous harm to patients.
  • Surgical errors often occur because of negligence, incompetence, or lack of experience with a particular procedure. It’s possible for a surgeon to make a mistake during a procedure and correct it immediately with little to no harm done to the patient, but other mistakes are more serious and can lead to medical malpractice cases.

These are just a few ways that medical negligence can become medical malpractice. Medicine is an inherently uncertain field, and it is possible for honest and understandable mistakes to happen in uncertain conditions, but this is very different from harm caused by negligence in a medical setting. If you are unsure whether you have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim, it is vital that you consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney in the state right away.


Q: What Is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice?

A: The difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice comes down to harm to the patient. If a medical professional violates the standard of care owed to their plaintiff due to a lack of reasonable care, it is medical negligence. When such actions result in patient harm, medical negligence becomes medical malpractice. Consult an attorney if you are unsure whether your situation constitutes grounds for a malpractice suit.

Q: How Do You File a Medical Malpractice Suit?

A: To file a medical malpractice suit in the state, you will need to obtain an affidavit of merit from a qualified medical professional who holds the same board certifications as the defendant in your claim. They must explain how your injury happened and how the defendant failed to meet the standard of care that applied to your situation. Once you obtain this affidavit, you need to submit it to the defendant with advance notice of your intent to file a suit.

Q: What Compensation Can I Claim in a Medical Malpractice Suit?

A: In Florida, the compensation you can claim in a medical malpractice suit will depend on the damages you suffered. You have the right to seek full repayment of economic damages such as increased medical bills, lost income, and lost earning potential. You also have the right to claim compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced. Your attorney can help maximize the compensation you obtain from a successful claim.

Q: What Are the Penalties for Medical Malpractice?

A: The penalties for medical malpractice in the state will vary from case to case based on the severity of a defendant’s actions. If they are proven to have breached their patient’s standard of care and harmed the patient, they are liable for all resulting damages. Professional misconduct can lead to the loss of their medical license, and if they engage in any fraud or concealment of their actions, they can face criminal charges.

Q: How Much Are Attorneys’ Fees for a Medical Malpractice Case?

A: Attorneys’ fees for a medical malpractice case in the state are limited by state law. Attorneys are required to use contingency fee billing for these cases, meaning a client’s fees will be a percentage of their case award based on the overall value of their case. This ensures that individuals harmed by medical malpractice have access to legal representation regardless of their financial situation.

The team at Spohrer Dodd Trial Attorneys has years of professional experience handling a wide range of complex medical malpractice cases, and we are ready to put this experience to work for you in your impending case. If you are unsure whether you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim in Florida, we can review the details of your situation and let you know how we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our team.