A Classification of Negligence: Negligence, Gross Negligence, and Malpractice

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The situation described in the article about the misfortune of the patient and the amputation of the wrong leg is horrific. Obviously, the intent of the surgeon and other involved health care professionals was to assist the patient but, by removing the wrong limb, those involved acerbated the situation. The question is whether such actions constituted negligence and, if so, what was the extent of that negligence? The field of negligence has been well established under the common law (Kelley, 2002). Beginning in England and continuing in the United States, what constitutes negligent behavior has developed and expanded through the years. Through many years of litigation the elements of negligence have become standardized and recognized by all jurisdictions. These elements, duty, breach, standard of care, and damages provide the courts with a system of determining not only fault but also a method of assessing compensation. It is incumbent upon the injured party to establish to establish all the elements of the alleged negligence. Within the area of negligence there are various levels that ultimately reflect upon the culpability of the negligent individual and which play an important part in the measurement of damages. Simple negligence is an act that can happen to most anyone. The classic example is the common automobile accident. Everyone who attempts to drive an automobile on the street has a duty to do safely but, on occasion, this does not occur and someone is

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