What Are the Four “D”s of Medical Malpractice?

What Are the Four “D”s of Medical Malpractice?The four “D”s of medical malpractice are: Duty, Deviation from standard of care, Damages, and Direct cause. All four of these elements are legally required and must be established in order to file a medical malpractice claim and pursue damages successfully. If you’re unsure if your experiences fit within these boundaries, the best thing you can do is contact a medical malpractice lawyer for a consultation. It is better to be safe and speak with someone who practices in this area than to assume you may not have a claim.

But today, we want to talk about those four “D”s so you can understand how a medical malpractice claim works.

Duty of care: Doctors have a duty of care. This means that it is their duty to provide the proper medical care to their patients within a reasonable amount of time. It is important to know that not just doctors have a duty of care. Nurses, phlebotomists, physician assistants, anesthesiologists, and surgeons all owe their patients a duty of care, which they agreed to when deciding to work in the medical field and develop doctor-patient relationships. All medical professionals must provide the same professional treatment as any other skilled and knowledgeable healthcare provider in their field would.

When your attorney proves duty of care, they will provide evidence showing that you and the healthcare provider had a doctor-patient relationship. Keep in mind that if you are suing an entire hospital or doctor’s office, this can apply to them as well. Your attorney will likely use your medical records and reports to show that you were a patient of the doctor, nurse, hospital, or doctor’s office, and you had appointments to seek and receive medical treatment.

Deviation from standard of care: Deviation from standard of care means that there was a breach in the doctor, healthcare provider, or medical office’s duty. This happens when a medical professional, hospital, or clinic fails to provide you with the standard level of care that you needed and deserved. A few examples of a breach in the duty of care are prescribing unnecessary or wrong medications, misdiagnosing a patient, failure to provide medical treatment within a reasonable amount of time, and conducting unneeded surgeries or medical treatments.

Deviation from standard of care is one of the most challenging elements to prove. However, your lawyer will likely use an expert witness with background, experience, or education in the medical field to help prove your case. It is their duty to break down medical terms and explain in-depth what happened, how the standard of care was not provided, how this caused your injuries or illness to become worse, and why this was dangerous to you.

Damages: The damages element in a medical malpractice case simply involves proving that the mistake or error made by the doctor, medical professional, hospital, or office resulted in damages. This means that you must be able to show proof that you suffered some type of harm from the healthcare provider’s behaviors or actions. This can be bodily injuries, illnesses, pain, mental trauma, emotional distress, financial losses, and more. Your attorney will likely ask that you collect all medical bills, prescriptions, receipts, documents, photographs, and videos showing any type of suffering that the healthcare provider caused you.

Direct cause: The last “D” for medical malpractice cases is direct cause. For this element, you must have proof that every damage that you listed or stated was a direct cause of the doctor or medical provider’s behavior or actions. The defendant’s legal team will most likely try to blame your injuries or illnesses on other medical conditions or poor health decisions. However, with the help of a skilled attorney and a knowledgeable expert witness, you can successfully prove that the medical provider’s negligence resulted in your damages.

What may and may not be considered medical negligence in Washington, DC

When you are visiting a doctor or hospital for medical treatment, you may think that a mistake or error is something that happens rarely and that the chances of it happening to you are slim to none. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) debunks this thinking by stating that “there is a 1 in 300 chance of a patient being harmed during health care.” To give you an idea of how serious this is, WHO also points out that “there is a 1 in a million chance of a person being harmed while traveling by plane.” This may be shocking to you as most people fear flying more than going to a doctor’s appointment.

If you are questioning whether you are a possible victim of medical malpractice, there is a high possibility that you might be. We like to think that doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers never make mistakes, but the harsh reality is that they often do. However, it can be difficult to see the difference between a preventable medical mistake or error and a medical treatment’s negative outcome. If you have a negative outcome, this simply means that the medical treatment may have failed to work on you. Below, we will provide examples of what may and may not be considered medical negligence.

What may be considered medical negligence:

  • A doctor failing to read or go over your medical history or test results
  • A doctor failing to ask about or assess your symptoms
  • A doctor misdiagnosing you
  • A doctor failing to diagnose or treat you within a reasonable amount of time
  • A doctor prescribing incorrect medications
  • A doctor failing to let you know about the possible risks of a treatment or medication
  • A doctor failing to follow up with you
  • A doctor making a mistake during surgery

What may not be considered medical negligence:

  • Prescribed medications causing sudden or unexpected allergies or side effects
  • A surgery or medical treatment not working for your condition
  • The doctor not having an available appointment to schedule you
  • Having a condition that cannot be treated or cured

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