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Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital or doctor injures a patient through a negligent act. Typically, negligence results in errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, and health management. 

Learn more about the characteristics of medical malpractice.

The 4 D’s of Medical Negligence

Every medical malpractice case must meet four requirements if the victim plans on receiving compensation. These requirements are known as the four Ds of medical negligence, which are: duty, deviation from duty, damages, and direct cause. 

Continue reading to learn more about the four D’s of medical malpractice and how they can impact your case.

1. Duty

Duty refers to a healthcare provider’s duty of care. A patient must demonstrate they have an established relationship with their healthcare provider; this proves the healthcare provider owed them a duty of care. A duty of care is a legal obligation imposed on an individual that requires adherence to a standard of reasonable care. 

In the medical industry, a professional must follow protocols and exercise compassion when caring for a patient. Conversely, if a specialist feels they lack the credentials to care for a patient properly, then it’s their responsibility to refer them to another medical professional. 

Proving a duty of care is as easy as providing copies of your medical records, which contain your physician’s or healthcare provider’s information. 

2. Deviation

Physicians and healthcare providers who deviate from an accepted industry standard can be held liable for medical malpractice. The patient must demonstrate the physician or healthcare provider didn’t follow medical standards, including those specific to their profession. 

Some examples of deviation from the standard of care include:

  • Misdiagnosing a patient
  • Diagnosing a patient too late
  • Giving the wrong medicine
  • Prescribing a medication that has a dangerous interaction
  • Prescribing an incorrect dose
  • Using medication for external use
  • Doing unnecessary procedures
  • Committing a surgical error

3. Damages

The patient must also prove, using a preponderance of the evidence, that the physician’s deviation from the standard of care resulted in damages. Said damages can be physical, mental, emotional, and financial. 

Evidence includes:

  • Medical records
  • Prescription records
  • Statements from other physicians in the industry
  • Cost of corrective treatment the patient endured

Additionally, said evidence must show the breach of duty caused the injury, and the injury included physical and financial damages. 

4. Direct Cause

Finally, a patient must prove the deviation by the healthcare provider was the direct cause of their injuries. For instance, let’s say a patient’s broken arm doesn’t heal correctly because the orthopedist didn’t apply the cast according to industry standards. In this situation, the patient can hold their healthcare provider accountable for their injuries. 

On the other hand, if a patient with a fractured arm was playing football, and they slipped and fractured it further, then the physician isn’t liable. Instead, the patient is responsible for not following the treatment protocol for their arm. 

Need an Attorney? Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton Can Help

If you’re a victim of medical malpractice, you should work with a personal injury attorney who can help you receive the compensation you deserve. One of the experienced attorneys at Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton can hold your negligent physician accountable in court while you focus on healing. Schedule your free case evaluation today.