Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Medical Battery

doctor in gloves behind a gavel

It is important for healthcare providers to understand that medical malpractice is not the only form of medical mistreatment that may lead to legal action. Despite sounding similar, medical battery has distinct differences from medical malpractice that should be noted.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice results when a medical care provider neglects to offer appropriate medical treatment to a patient, provides substandard treatment which leads to the patient’s injury or death, or fails to take appropriate action. 

To have a viable medical malpractice case, it is not enough to show that a patient did not get the results they wanted. Instead, a patient would need to prove that:

  • A patient-doctor relationship existed
  • The health care professional owed a duty to the patient
  • The healthcare professional breached this duty and acted or failed to act according to the accepted standard of care 
  • The breach caused the patient’s injury
  • The patient sustained significant damage because of the harm

Medical Battery

Medical battery occurs when a person inflicts physical harm on another person in a medical setting. While it may seem similar to medical negligence, the main difference between medical battery and medical negligence is intention. This is because medical battery generally results when a healthcare professional touches a patient without their permission.

To establish medical battery, the patient needs to prove the following:

  • The patient was not informed in advance about a non-emergency procedure that was done on their body.
  • The patient was informed of a procedure, but the healthcare professional did not disclose all the possible risks associated with the procedure.
  • If the patient had known about the procedure or had been fully informed of all the risks, they would not have consented to the procedure.
  • The patient was aware of the risks and procedures involved and declined to give consent, but the procedure was performed anyway.

Role of Informed Consent

Informed consent refers to the communication between a patient and their medical care provider that leads to an agreement or permission for treatment, care, or services. Informed consent can be provided orally or in writing. However, in a medical setting, consent is usually provided through a waiver signed by the patient before receiving some type of treatment.

Informed consent is not only critical for the patient but also for the healthcare professional, as it can protect them from being held liable for medical malpractice and medical battery.

Contact Goodman Allen Donnelly To Understand Your Legal Options

At the law firm of Goodman Allen Donnelly, our legal team counsels various healthcare providers, including laboratories, hospitals, healthcare systems, and individual practitioners, regarding the legal risks and regulatory requirements they may face daily in their practice.

If you want to know more about the differences between medical malpractice and medical battery or understand your legal options if a patient is bringing a claim against you, contact Goodman Allen Donnelly today and find out how our attorneys can help you.