How Do Medical Battery and Medical Malpractice Differ?

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When you visit a physician, surgeon, or medical care facility, you trust and expect that you will receive care that complies with a reasonable standard of care. You should not become more ill or injured as a result of your healthcare provider’s actions.

Doctors, nurses, and healthcare organizations are held to a high standard of professional behavior. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider, such as a nurse or doctor, fails to provide a reasonable standard of care.

The term “standard of care” refers to the level of skill, specialized knowledge, and attention expected to be provided by a healthcare professional. Medical malpractice and medical battery both involve falling short of these standards.

However, these two types of improper actions are legally distinct. What are the differences between medical malpractice and medical battery?

Understanding Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many different forms and can occur in many contexts. Malpractice happens when a healthcare professional does not provide a reasonable standard of care, causing avoidable patient harm.

Some of the most common examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Failing to provide a diagnosis
  • Providing an incorrect diagnosis
  • Surgical errors
  • Prescription medication mistakes
  • Injuries during the birthing process
  • Anesthesia injuries
  • Failing to obtain informed consent

Not every instance of an injury or illness from professional treatment qualifies as malpractice. To prove medical malpractice, the victim must provide evidence of the following:

  • That the healthcare provider has a duty to offer a reasonable standard of care
  • That the provider failed to meet the professionally expected standard of care
  • That this failure directly caused the patient’s injury or illness
  • That the patient suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm

It can be difficult to establish that medical malpractice occurred. Often, claimants require help from medical experts and specialists. These experts will have to testify that the care provider failed to fulfill their duty of care.

Other elements in the process of litigating a medical malpractice case include:

  • Collecting relevant medical records
  • Analyzing the necessity of treatments and procedures
  • Consulting with witnesses
  • Navigating complex legal proceedings and requirements

Victims of medical malpractice should speak with a medical malpractice lawyer experienced in these types of cases. If you have been harmed by a medical provider’s negligence, a knowledgeable legal professional can help you effectively pursue the compensation to which you are entitled.

What Is Medical Battery?

Medical battery happens when an individual intentionally inflicts harm on another person in the context of a medical setting. The term “battery” refers to the intention to cause another party physical harm.

When a healthcare provider engages in an intervention or procedure without securing the patient’s consent (contrasted with the failure to secure informed consent), this action constitutes medical battery. Failing to obtain consent (i.e., performing a procedure or other action that the patient is unaware was going to be performed) is considered a violation of the person’s bodily integrity and autonomy.

Consent vs. Informed Consent

A medical battery requires that a patient not consent, at all, to a particular treatment or action. This differs dramatically from the failure of a healthcare provider to get informed consent from a patient.

To clarify, informed consent is a vital element of any medical practice. This principle ensures that patients have the right to make informed decisions about their healthcare options.

All people have the right to determine what happens to their bodies. The principle of informed consent requires professional care providers to offer the following information to patients:

  • A description of the nature of any procedure
  • A list of the risks and potential benefits
  • Descriptions of any alternative treatment options

Medical care providers should not engage in treatments or procedures without the patient’s informed consent.

Failure to obtain informed consent, however, is NOT considered medical battery.

Medical battery requires that the patient not provide any consent to the procedure or other action, meaning the patient did not know that the procedure or action was going to be performed at all.

Medical battery can occur in many nonemergency situations and contexts, such as when a healthcare provider performs the following actions without obtaining the patient’s consent:

  • Surgeries
  • Invasive procedures
  • Administration of medications
  • Medical examinations

To successfully establish an instance of medical battery, certain elements must be proven:

  • The patient did not provide any voluntary consent;
  • The care provider acted in ways that were not approved; and,
  • The patient was harmed as a result of the action.

The outcome of a medical battery claim depends on many factors. It is critical for injured patients to secure competent legal representation. Having a lawyer on your side will give you a stronger chance of recovering financial compensation for the harm that you suffered.

Speak with an Attorney at The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq.

When you need representation in a medical battery claim, look no further than the team at The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. Our accomplished legal professionals know what it takes to fight for malpractice victims across California successfully. Contact our firm today for a free and confidential consultation about the facts of your case!

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