Health care providers have a responsibility to provide competent and safe care to their patients. When patient care is compromised or the patient does not have a successful medical outcome, sometimes the legal system becomes involved. It is important to be aware of the terms negligence, gross negligence, and malpractice because they are often misunderstood. This paper attempts to provide a definition of each legal term in an effort to distinguish the difference between each term Application of negligence and malpractice will be applied through review of a newspaper article entitled, “Amputation mishap; negligence.” Effective documentation leaves no room for liability of the health care provider. After review of this paper, it is hopeful that the reader will feel well informed of the meanings of negligence, gross negligence, and malpractice and how to effectively chart in a patient’s medical record.
Standards of care have been created by state and federal agencies and health care licensing boards. These standards provide for the minimal requirement of skill and knowledge that define an acceptable level of patient care. When health care providers fail to provide competent care to their patients, they may be found guilty of negligence. Guido (2010) defines negligence as, “A general term that denotes conduct lacking in due care. Negligence equates with carelessness, a deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use in a particular set of circumstances.” For example, the healthcare provider receives a report back from a pathologist that a referral to a specialist should be considered for follow-up. The provider fails to provide the referral. Time elapses, the patient dies, and later it is revealed that an earlier referral for surgical resection could have saved the patients life (Boyd 2009). Now that we have defined negligence, let’s take a look at gross...