What are the 4 Ds of Medical Malpractice

Medical professionals, such as physicians, nurses, surgeons, medical assistants, pharmacists, and psychologists can be life saviors. However, when they make a mistake due to poor judgment or out of negligence, the results can be catastrophic and sometimes even fatal. Medical malpractice occurs when patients get harmed due to the incompetence and negligence of doctors or other medical professionals and healthcare providers.

We have no other option but to trust our doctors, however, some physicians can fail to adequately perform their duties. In such cases, the affected patients can file a medical malpractice claim to get the benefits that they deserve for the damage they have suffered. Medical malpractice laws can vary from one state to the other, but there are some general rules that apply to most medical malpractice cases like the 4D’s. The 4 D’s refer to the requirements needed to establish a medical malpractice case, and if you need to learn more about them, here is a brief guide to give you more insight.

Duty of Care

To file a medical malpractice claim you need to first prove that the doctor had a legal duty toward the patient. The existence of a doctor-patient relationship is evidence that the doctor has an obligation to the patient. A relationship between a doctor and a patient entitles that the doctor owes the duty of care and treatment with the same degree and skill needed and expected from a reasonably competent doctor facing similar circumstances. Once a doctor-patient relationship is established, the doctor has an ethical and legal obligation to care for their patients and not to abandon them. However, if the doctor managed to prove that their relationship with the patient was terminated before the date on which the claimed medical malpractice is said to have occurred, the patient won’t be able to prove that the doctor owed a duty of care to them.

The patient should provide documents proving that:

  • The patient chose this particular medical professional.
  • The patient consented to an examination to get treated for a certain condition or problem.
  • The doctor’s treatment was ongoing.

Even if doctors delegated certain tasks to trained healthcare personnel, they still have a legal obligation to monitor the effects of the prescribed medicine. Also, the doctors have the duty to inform their patients about the possible dangers and risks associated with the prescribed medicine.

Dereliction of Failure to Fulfill the Duty

Failure of medical professionals to meet the duty of care is called dereliction, or “breach of duty”.  This happens when a medical professional fails to provide their patient with the quality care and treatment needed and expected of a reasonably competent medical professional under the same circumstances. Dereliction can be very hard for patients to prove as most medical professionals refuse to criticize each other’s performance or testify against each other. The Washington-based law experts at https://www.wilsonlaw.com/ recommend that you seek the help of specialized lawyers with medical degrees. Hiring a lawyer with extensive medical knowledge and legal experience can further increase your chances of winning your medical malpractice case.

Direct Causation

Direct causation means that the patient must prove that the medical professional breached the duty of care, which is the direct cause of the injury or damage. Arguments on both sides can get heated when discussing this point, as proving causation of medical negligence is difficult. If there are multiple factors involved in the incident, then the patient must prove that the incident has indeed caused the damage. Even if these factors are seen as cumulative, the claim can still succeed.


A solid proof that the patient suffered from physical or mental harm must exist. Medical records, prescriptions, and testimonies can be used as evidence of the damage done. If the patient dies as a result of medical malpractice, their family members can recover damage through a wrongful death claim. 

Economic damages compensate victims for the financial costs related to medical malpractice. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, aren’t easy to quantify in dollar amounts, as they mostly cover the pain and suffering the victim endured.

At the end of the day, doctors are only humans, and they are susceptible to making mistakes. However, a medical professional’s mistake can cause serious damage that might affect the quality of the patient’s life, and in some cases, it could be fatal. Almost 200,000 people in the US die every year as a result of medical errors and only 15% of claimants file a lawsuit as people tend to think that doctors are not capable of making mistakes. Now that you are aware of the 4 D’s, you should be able to tell whether the damages you or a loved one have suffered qualify as medical malpractice and claim your rights accordingly.