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Medical Malpractice & Nursing Homes

If you are hurt by unreasoable conduct or mistakes in a hospital, then you will file a medical malpractice lawsuit, right? Not quite. While “medical malpractice” refers to professional negligence by medical cargivers, the actual setting of the mistake is not the critical distinction. Instead, when it comes to malpractice and negligence, the crucial issue is not where the error occurred but the conduct itself. These distinctions are also not just semantics, as different legal rules, evidentiary standards, and requirements, are often implicated depending on whether the case involves ordinary negligence or professional negligence.

In general, most hospital errors include professional negligence and most caregiving mistakes in other settings are traditional negligence. However, that is not always true. Medical malpractice can occur outside of the hospital and traditional neglgience can occur inside it. Sometimes it is necessary to parse details carefully to understand which might be implicated. For example, failing to properly read a medical chart and missing a diagnosis is malpractice. But failing to properly monitor a resident moving from the hosptial bed to the restroom, leading to a fall, it likely regular negligence.

On the other side, doctors an nurses sometimes work in settings outside of the hospital or medical clinic. The most common alternative, for example, is the skilled nursing facility or nursing home. The seniors and residents with disabilities in this facilities need basic day-to-day care as well as close medical support. When mistakes are made at these homes it is often regular negligence–wandering, elopement, etc.–but that is not always true. It is possible for a medical error to occur regarding the medical professional’s erroneous decision-making that might lead to an actual professional negligence claim.

News stories discussing these events sometimes convolute the issue. For example, a recent Fox 5 News story on poor care at a nursing home frequently makes reference to medical errors or poor medical care resulting in harm to residents. That terminology is used to refer to a facility’s failure to properly care for a bed sore, resulting in the development of an infection, septic shock, and the near-death of the patient. While this is refered to as poor medical care, it is important not to confuse this wil actual medical malpractice. If a lawsuit were to arise out of that situation, then it is likely that regular negligence or violation of state nursing home care laws would be implicated instead of medical malpractice as it is commonly understood.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by these basic legal differences, and that is where attorneys come in. The job of a personal injury lawyer in these cases is take in the facts for those effected, investigate to learn more, and fit those facts into the appropriate legal context to ensure accountability and redress for the one harmed. If you have questions about how these details might play out in your own case, please take a moment to contact the lawyers at our firm. We work with residents in Chicago and throughout the state when they are harmed due to the errors of others.

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