When the term professional malpractice is mentioned, many people assume it automatically refers to medical malpractice. This isn’t always the case.
Malpractice cases don’t always center on medical malpractice issues. In fact, the term malpractice refers to any act of neglect or failure by a “professional.” These kinds of cases also happen to involve accountants, nurses, dentists and lawyers.
The difficult thing about malpractice cases is what actually constitutes professional neglect. This is a hard thing to prove, as it usually boils down to a “he said/she said” situation and involves what other pros in the same profession as an accused consider to be the “gold standard” of proper and ethical practice.
Professional neglect is an act by an expert that harms a patient or client. In other words, the person on the receiving end of the negligence suffers some harm. Usually in cases such as this the assertion is that the quality of care or the service provided was outside the generally accepted standards followed by others in the same profession.
There is, however, another meaning for the term malpractice and that is an act done on purpose by a professional intending harm. For example the case of an accountant or stockbroker who misappropriates money from his or her clients. It may also mean an instance where a patient in a hospital gets the wrong medication and it causes physical harm. This would be a prime example of hospital malpractice. Medical misdiagnosis may also fall into this area of law.
While it likely goes without saying that experts in any profession are only human and are sometimes prone to making mistakes, the dividing line between an honest mistake and malpractice is when the harm caused by the practitioner could have been avoided if they had only acted in a reasonable manner “under the circumstances.”
The most common cause of death in the U.S. is medical malpractice and includes cases involving bungled surgery, cancer misdiagnosis, birth injuries, and medication overdoses or mistakes. Ranking right up there next in line are errors relating to not getting informed consent before doing a medical procedure and the failure to act quickly to treat a diagnosed condition.