Understanding The Difference Between Product Liability & Medical Malpractice

The application of law in healthcare is quite diverse in nature, as is evident from the many cases of malpractice and product liability.

Litigation with respect to product liability has a higher success rate than malpractice. Also, a general misconception is that the successful litigation is dependent on the kind of personal injuries. However, it is the scope of the law that makes the outcome positive.

Provisions in Product Liability Law

Medical devices that are made for improving the health of numerous patients can harm the patient for a number of reasons. These devices range from being analytical to personal, such as a pacemaker.

Those who have suffered due the use of a defective medical device should seek legal help. For instance, if patients who have opted for bone graft implants become the victims of inflammation or urinary problem, they are eligible for a product liability lawsuit. There are two important aspects to product liability law that are applicable ubiquitously.

First, the defective medical device attorney has to prove that the product did not perform within its “safety precautions”. Secondly, it has to be shown that the risks or identified hazards involved in the use of the product were not outweighed by the benefit of the design (of the device).

However, in case of medical malpractice, the prescribing physician wasn’t responsible for the device being defective. The Food and Drug Administration has its set standards for approving these devices by healthcare professionals.

So the trend in case of product liability is pretty simple. The case doesn’t have to ‘assign blame’, but should be based on “consumer expectations” outweighing “risk benefit” analysis.

Provisions in Medical Malpractice Law

As opposed to the product liability law, which states that the blame doesn’t need to be proven, medical malpractice specifically targets any negligent practice from the physician. Basically, three aspects are targeted in such law suits.

1.  It has to be shown that the physician or medical expert in question fell below the standard of care.

2.  The violation of the standard of care (or negligence) caused an injury to the patient. This point is important because you have to categorically prove that the doctor was responsible for the injury.

3.  The nature and extent of the injury is also a focal point to determine the degree of malpractice.

The aspects would have made it clear why medical malpractice cases are difficult to win as opposed to product liability cases. The burden of proof lies mainly with the plaintiff and it is pretty tough to define what a proper “standard of care” is. Especially because standard of care varies from state to state and is dependent on the economic condition of the hospital.

The two laws have been compared on a very simple basis. There are cases in which the doctor may have given a treatment using a medical device that was defective. In that case, if the patient proceeds with the malpractice approach, there’s only a slight chance of getting a sizable settlement. Secondly, in cases of product liability, the defendant is willing to settle quickly because of its stake in the market. A defective product that harms a patient, if gets publicized, harms the company’s reputation in the general public.

On these grounds, in cases of personal injury related to healthcare, it is exceedingly important to opt for an appropriate lawsuit.


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