Clueless versus Incompetent versus Malpractice versus Crime

I am sure you have heard this many times: what’s wrong with these doctors today? My medications are not working. They chopped off my left leg when the right was the sick one. They left a pair of scissors in me after surgery. They gave me the wrong medications. The list goes on. What is what and how can you tell if a doctor is clueless, or incompetent, or is committing malpractice, or is the act downright criminal?

I am not sure if my definitions are correct in the eye of the law so if you know something I missed or got wrong, please don’t be shy and help me out. Feel free to post what you know so I can update my knowledge.


Clueless is defined as “not having knowledge of something.” So in case of doctors, a clueless doctors means no harm, only does not know what he/she is doing. Mind you in some fields being clueless can cost lives, such as medicine, so while ignorance may be bliss in many fields of work, medicine is not one of them.


Incompetent means that although the person may know what needs to be done, he/she does not have the skills to do it.  The person is not legally qualified and so cannot take on the particular duty. For example a doctor of the foot, a podiatrist, may not have the skills to operate on the patient’s heart. The podiatrist may know what needs to be done but is not qualified to actually perform the surgery and is he/she attempts it anyway, that is incompetence. Incompetent people are probably the type we most often bump into in our every day lives. They know they are not qualified but are ashamed to admit it and act as though they were. I think most people’s managers fall into this category somewhere…


Malpractice is pretty much a crime but need not end in prison sentence. Malpractice is officially defined in the dictionary as “a dereliction of professional duty or a failure to exercise an ordinary degree of professional skill or learning by one (as a physician) rendering professional services which results in injury, loss, or damage; an injurious, negligent, or improper practice.” Thus malpractice is close to crime that cannot be considered deliberate and hence is a mixture of clueless and incompetent to a deeper degree.


Negligence is more along the side of criminal, particularly if it is with intent. The official dictionary definition of negligence is “failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances” which is similar to malpractice but requires expert witnesses and is likely a jury court hearing. I suppose in the case of “negligence with intent” the doctor may lose his/her license and may even spend time in jail, dependent upon how much damage was the consequence of negligence.

The reason why I am bringing this up here is because I would like to find out if a doctor and an entire medical institution disregards a medicine that the patient has on her chart that she is allergic to it and yet the doctors force down large doses of that drug in to her in spite of the allergy warning, is that criminal negligence with intent to harm?

Please give me your thoughts by a comment!

About Be Healthy

Angela A Stanton, PhD, is a Neuroeconomist who evaluates changes in behavior, chronic pain, decision-making, as a result of hormonal variations in the brain. She lives in Southern California. Her current research is focused on migraine cause, prevention and treatment without the use of medicines. As a migraineur, her discovery was helped by experimenting on herself. She found the cause of migraine to be at the ionic level, associated with disruption of the electrolyte homeostasis, resulting from genetic mutations of insulin and glucose transporters, and voltage gated sodium and calcium channel mutations. Such mutations cause major shifts in a migraine brain, unlike that of a non-migraine brain. A non-migraineur can handle electrolyte changes on autopilot. A migraineur must always be on manual guard for such changes to maintain electrolyte homeostasis. The book Fighting The Migraine Epidemic: How To Treat and Prevent Migraines Without Medicines - An Insider's View explains why we have migraines, how to prevent them and how to stay migraine (and medicine) free for life. As a result of the success of the first edition of her book and new research and findings, she is now finishing the 2nd edition. The 2nd edition is the “holy grail” of migraines, incorporating all there is to know at the moment and also some hypotheses. It includes an academic research section with suggestions for further research. The book is full of citations to authenticate the statements she makes to be followed up by those interested and to spark further research interest. While working on the 2nd edition of the book she also published academic articles: "Migraine Cause and Treatment" Mental Health in family Medicine, November 23, 2015, open access "Functional Prodrome in Migraines" Journal of Neurological Disorders, January 22, 2016, open access "Are Statistics Misleading Sodium Reduction Benefits?", Journal of Medical Diagnostic Method, February 3, 2016, open access “A Comment on Severe Headache or Migraine History Is Inversely Correlated With Dietary Sodium Intake: NHANES 1999-2004” Angela A Stanton PhD, 19 July 2016 DOI: 10.1111/head.12861 not open access, subscription is required to read it. Dr. Stanton received her BSc at UCLA in Mathematics, MBA at UCR, MS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, PhD in NeuroEconomics at Claremont Graduate University, and fMRI certification at Harvard University Medical School at the Martinos Center for Neuroimaging for experimenting with neurotransmitters on human volunteers. For relaxation Dr. Stanton paints and photographs. Follow her on Twitter at: @MigraineBook
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One Response to Clueless versus Incompetent versus Malpractice versus Crime

  1. Pingback: Clueless versus Incompetent versus Malpractice versus Crime | cluelessdoctors

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