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In the law of torts, malpractice, also known as professional negligence, is an "instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional".[1]

Professionals who may become the subject of malpractice actions include:

  • medical professionals: a medical malpractice claim may be brought against a doctor or other healthcare provider who fails to exercise the degree of care and skill that a similarly situated professional of the same medical specialty would provide under the circumstances.[2]
  • lawyers: a legal malpractice claim may be brought against a lawyer who fails to render services with the level of skill, care and diligence that a reasonable lawyer would apply under similar circumstances.[1]
  • financial professionals: professionals such as accountants, financial planners and stockbrokers, may be subject to claims for professional negligence based upon their failure to meet professional standards when providing services to their clients.[3]
  • architects: an architect or construction professional may be accused of professional negligence for failing to meet professional standards in the design and construction of buildings and structures.[3]

Proof of malpractice[edit]

Professional negligence actions require a professional relationship between the professional and the person claiming to have been injured by malpractice.[4] For example, in order to sue a lawyer for malpractice the person bringing the claim must have had an attorney-client relationship with the lawyer.[5]

Typically, to succeed in a malpractice action the person making a malpractice claim must prove both that the professional committed an act of culpable negligence and that the person suffered injury as a result of the professional's error.[6]

Medical malpractice[edit]

Medical malpractice is a highly complex area of law, with laws that differ significantly between jurisdictions.[7]

In Australia, medical malpractice and the rise in incidences of claims against individual and institutional providers has led to the evolution of patient advocates.[8]


  1. ^ a b Malpractice definition, Garner, Bryan A. (2009). Black's Law Dictionary (9 ed.). West. ISBN 0314199497. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Malpractice". Merriam-Webster, Inc. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b Larson, Aaron (14 October 2017). "What is Malpractice". ExpertLaw. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  4. ^ Jacobs, Douglas (1992). Suicide and Clinical Practice. American Psychiatric Association Publishing. p. 148. ISBN 0880484551. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  5. ^ Bresnahan, Pamela A. (September 1999). "Beware the Cocktail Party Client" (PDF). American Bar Association. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  6. ^ See, e.g., Bal, B. Sonny (February 2009). "An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States". Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 467 (2): 339–347. doi:10.1007/s11999-008-0636-2. PMC 2628513. PMID 19034593.
  7. ^ Marcus, Paul (1981). "Book Review of Medical Malpractice Law: A Comparative Law Study of Civil Responsibility Arising from Medical Care". Hastings International and Comparative Law Review: 235–243. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  8. ^ Kamaker, Dorothy (September 26, 2015). "Patient advocacy services ensure optimum health outcomes". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved August 23, 2016.