The 4 D’s of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice happens when a patient is harmed by a medical professional that fails to competently perform their duties as a medical professional. Medical malpractice rules such as the ones related to notifying the physician ahead of time, and timing your lawsuit, vary from state. It depends what state you’re in regarding statute of limitations and such. However, there are some general rules that apply to most—if not all—medical malpractice cases.
Medical malpractice is often considered a subset within the umbrella that is negligence. If you feel like yourself or a loved one have been damaged by a medical professionals’ inability to do their job (such as negligence), and they have inadequately provided care for you, reach out to a medical malpractice attorney such as the ones available at Wieand Law Firm LLC.
The requirements that are set out to generalize and make it easier for the public to determine what is considered medical malpractice are referenced as “the four D’s”. The four D’s are: duty, deviation, direct causation and damages.
But what do those words mean? We’re on it.
Duty of care is the first word in the four D’s, and it does not apply to every single person. For duty of care to arise, you must have a patient-doctor relationship with the doctor in question, because a doctor who does not know or treat you does not have a duty of care to provide to you—they have a zero relationship with you. An example of this is if a doctor is eating at a table in a restaurant, and you choke—the doctor is not obligated to try to perform the Heimlich maneuver on you because they are not at a hospital where there are expectations, and they have no relationship to you.
A doctor-patient relationship determines that a physician owes you duty of “care and treatment”, with a degree of skill and care and diligence as is expected to be reasonably possessed by a licensed physician. Essentially, your doctor needs to do what any other doctor in their position would do in the situation they’re involved in with you as their patient.
Next comes dereliction or failure to fulfill the duty of care that was previously discussed. In other words, your medical treatment did not provide you the care you needed, and it was not performed by a medical professional who can be called reasonably competent under the circumstances. This is often called “breach of duty” and is where malpractice arguments usually occur and can be hard for patients. Medical professionals do not usually want to critique their colleagues’ performance, much less testify against them as an expert in your case.
Next is direct causation, which is where the patient and their lawyer must prove that the breach of duty and negligence to provide top-notch care caused the damages to the patients. This is often a straightforward thing to establish, but can cause more arguments, just like with breach of duty.
Last but not least, damages—the patient has to show they’ve suffered harm, whether physical, mental, or both. Often this is shown through medical records, medication records, and testimonies.