What are the 4 D's of Medical Malpractice?

Medical mistakes can lead to significant injuries or illnesses for patients. Unfortunately, we know the medical mistakes are more common than most people realize in this country. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University said a few years back that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the country. Further studies have shown that preventable medical errors take the lives of as many as 250,000 people each year and injure millions more. Victims of medical malpractice are often able to recover compensation through lawsuits against alleged negligent providers. Here, we want to discuss the “four D’s” of medical malpractice, particularly because these four factors play a direct role in whether or not a malpractice claim will be successful.

Duty of Care

When working to establish whether or not a medical malpractice lawsuit will be viable, the first thing to determine is whether there was a duty of care established between the patient and the doctor. Most people are familiar with the term doctor-patient relationship. However, not every doctor that a person interacts with will mean that this type of relationship has been established. In order for a proper doctor-patient relationship to exist, this means that the doctor is responsible for treating the patient in some way. When this type of relationship is established, the doctor will owe the patient the same medical duty of care that a similarly trained medical professional would provide under similar circumstances.

Dereliction or Failure to Fulfill the Duty

The second part of determining whether or not a medical malpractice lawsuit is viable is establishing that there was some sort of failure or dereliction of duty on the part of the medical professional. In other words, when an attorney examines these cases, they will be looking to see whether or not the medical professional provided the patient with the care and treatment that was expected in the given situation. Often, a dereliction of duty is referred to as a “breach of duty.” The vast majority of medical malpractice lawsuits hinge on whether or not a breach of duty actually occurred.

Direct Causation

After a dereliction or breach of duty has been established in a medical malpractice case, it needs to be shown that the actions of the medical provider directly caused the injuries or damages that the patient has sustained. In general, establishing direct causation is not too difficult after a breach of duty has been established.


Finally, a medical malpractice victim and their attorney must show they have suffered harm as a result of the actions of the medical professional. These damages can include physical harm suffered by the patient or emotional and psychological harm suffered by the patient. Damages can be shown through the use of medical records, pay stubs if a victim could not work, receipts showing out-of-pocket expenses, and testimony from other medical professionals.

Work With an Attorney in These Cases

If you or somebody you love has been injured or become ill due to the careless or negligent actions of a medical provider, you need to work with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will have the resources and experience necessary to conduct a complete investigation into these claims, determine liability, and help victims recover the compensation they are entitled to. `