A Latin expression, to signify bad or unskilful practice in a physician or other professional person, such as a midwife, lawyer, etc., whereby the health or welfare of the patient or client is injured. The failure of a professional to follow the accepted standards of practice of his or her profession.
This offence was, and in some places still is, a misdemeanor (whether it be occasioned by curiosity and experiment or neglect) because, it breaks the trust which the patient has put in the physician, and tends directly to his destruction.
There are three kinds of mal practice. 1. Wilful mal practice, which takes place when the physician purposely administers medicines or performs an operation which he knows and expects will result in danger or death to the individual under his care; as, in the case of criminal abortion.
Negligent mal practice, which comprehends those cases where there is no criminal or dishonest object, but gross negligence of that attention which the situation of the patient requires: as if a physician should administer medicines while in a state of intoxication, from which injury would arise to his patient.
Ignorant mal practice, which is the administration of medicines, calculated to do injury, which do harm, and which a well educated and scientific medical man would know were not proper in the case. Besides any public remedy for mal practice, in most modern cases the party injured usually brings a civil action.