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What is the difference between medical negligence and battery?

When you think of medical malpractice, the first thing that may cross your mind is medical negligence. Most publicized cases of medical malpractice in New York involve some form of negligence from hospitals, doctors, nurses and other caregiver and medical staff. However, negligence incidents are not the only way medical malpractice can occur. 

Medical battery is another common type of medical malpractice that you should be aware of. Before you can receive medical care and treatment, you must give your consent in writing. Usually, your health care team will inform you of the risks, benefits and goals for their recommendations and give you consent forms to sign. To better understand the concept of medical negligence and battery, review their differences below. 

Medical negligence 

Negligence is when medical personnel violate their breach of care and fail to provide you with a reasonable standard of care. Their carelessness usually leads to health complications, additional pain and suffering and in some cases death. Successful medical negligence claims must prove that the accused was careless, reckless and did not follow policy or procedure to prescribe and administer medication, operate on the proper surgical site and treat the right patient. There are other supporting factors that must be present, but they are dependent on the circumstances surrounding each claim. 

Medical battery 

You have the option to refuse medical treatment verbally, in writing and through advance directives. When you do not agree to treatment, and a hospital staff performs it without your permission or informed consent, they are committing medical battery, states FindLaw. It does not matter if the medical professional went against your wishes to lessen your discomfort or save your life. They cannot intentionally perform a medical procedure without proper consent. Keep in mind there are exceptions.

Medical battery does not occur as often as medical negligence, and may not have as much of a negative impact on a patient’s health. Some health care professionals who commit medical battery do it with malicious and criminal intent. It is possible for you to experience both medical negligence and battery at the same time. It is beneficial for you to have an advocate with you during your medical appointments and to understand all treatment and diagnostic procedure recommendations before you give or decline consent.

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