The 4 D’s of medical negligence cases

According to a study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer, resulting in at least 250,000 deaths each year. Negligent actions can include surgical errors, misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, medication errors, and even wrongful death. 

In order for a victim of medical malpractice to receive compensation, they have to prove that their injuries were the result of negligence on the part of a healthcare provider or hospital. That is where the “4D’s” of medical negligence come into play.

What are the 4D’s of medical negligence? Simply put, they refer to the four requirements that must be established before you can file a lawsuit against a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare provider in order to receive compensation:

  • Duty
  • Deviation
  • Damages
  • Direct cause

A breakdown of each

In order to have a successful medical malpractice claim, the victim or plaintiff in the case must prove that the 4 D’s occurred and provide evidence that he or she deserves fair compensation.

Duty — The victim must establish that they had a patient-doctor relationship or patient-healthcare provider relationship in which the provider owed them a duty of care. Any healthcare provider that cares for a patient in a medical setting is obligated to follow certain protocols and employ competence when caring for said patient. To establish a duty of care, the victim needs to provide copies of medical records that show that a relationship existed at the time of the injury.

Deviation — If a doctor or other healthcare provider fails to follow accepted standards for patient care and treatment, including those that are specific to his or her profession, that healthcare provider could be found liable for medical malpractice. Some common examples of a deviation from standard care practices would include (but are not limited to):

  • Misdiagnosing a patient
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Medication mistakes
  • Surgical errors
  • Performing unnecessary procedures

Damages — refers to the amount of money that the law imposed for a breach of duty. The victim must provide evidence that the healthcare provider’s deviation from the accepted duty of care caused physical, mental, emotional, and/or financial damages. Evidence can include:

  • Medical records
  • Prescription records
  • Expert witness testimony from other providers in a similar profession
  • Cost of any corrective treatment undergone by the victim

Direct cause — To have a successful claim of medical negligence, the victim must show that the deviation in care was the direct cause of their injuries.

When to contact an attorney

If you are considering filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice, you need to be aware of the fact that these types of cases are highly complex. Therefore, you need an attorney with experience as well as expertise when it comes to handling medical malpractice cases.

Scott S. Harris, medical negligence attorney, has more than 30 years of experience helping clients throughout California obtain compensation for their injuries. Check out our website to learn about some of the most common examples of medical malpractice claims.