What Are the Four Ds of Medical Negligence?

To win a medical malpractice case, it is not enough to simply say that a doctor hurt you. You must prove a series of important facts to prove your need for compensation. Medical malpractice lawyers often refer to these elements as the four Ds of medical negligence: duty of care, deviation from the standard of care, direct causation, and damages. You and your attorney will need to provide evidence that proves each of these elements to secure a settlement in your lawsuit.

#1: Duty of Care

Whenever you visit a hospital or clinic, every medical professional who treats you has a duty to provide appropriate medical care. You must establish that this duty of care exists in order to seek compensation from the medical professional in question. If you cannot establish that this duty exists, the court will dismiss your claim.

For example, if you are at a party and ask a doctor friend for advice about symptoms you are having, you cannot file a claim against your friend even if his or her advice turns out to be wrong. Since you are not in a professional setting and do not establish a doctor-patient relationship, no duty of care exists.

#2: Deviation from the Standard of Care

When duty of care exists, a medical professional has a duty to uphold a certain standard of care. This standard requires healthcare professionals to provide the same care that another skilled and diligent medical worker with similar qualifications would under the same circumstances.

You must prove that the at-fault party deviated from professional standards to secure a settlement in your case. Your attorney can connect you with medical experts who can evaluate your case and testify on your behalf, providing valuable insight into the at-fault party’s actions.

#3: Direct Causation

After you establish the medical professional’s duty and deviation, you must prove that the deviation from the standard of care directly caused your injuries. You must establish that the actions of the at-fault party caused your injuries, not an underlying condition or another event.

For example, say that you visit a doctor after experiencing gastrointestinal issues and unexplained weight loss. The doctor diagnoses you with irritable bowel syndrome, and fails to order additional tests to check for other conditions. As your symptoms worsen, you visit a second doctor who diagnoses you with stage II colon cancer.

In this situation, the deviation from the standard of care is misdiagnosis and failure to order appropriate tests. You can establish that if the doctor ordered the appropriate tests, he or she could have caught the colon cancer before it progressed to stage II.

#4: Damages

Finally, you must establish that you suffered damages you can collect compensation for in your lawsuit. You can collect both economic, financial damages and non-economic pain and suffering compensation. Common types of damages in medical malpractice lawsuits may include the following.

Your Kansas City medical malpractice attorney can help you determine which damages you qualify for. You will need to supply documentation for certain damages, such as medical bills and timesheets. Since medical malpractice is a specialized area of law, seeking qualified legal representation is necessary. If you have not contacted a lawyer for your case, schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.