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The 4 D’s of medical malpractice

| Nov 13, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

Going to see a doctor when you’re having a health problem can be scary. Some people have an innate fear of doctors, and others may be afraid to find out what their diagnosis is.

Despite their trepidation, people tend to trust medical professionals overall. On the other side of the coin, medical professionals take their responsibility of providing the best care possible to their patients very seriously.

However, there are still rare instances in which doctors do not do their job to the best of their ability, which causes their patients to suffer. They could end up in worse condition than they were at the start of treatment, or even pass away because of a doctor’s wrongdoing.

You have likely heard about medical malpractice before but may be wondering what exactly it consists of. The key to recognizing it is through the four D’s:

  • Duty
  • Dereliction
  • Damages
  • Direct cause


Doctors must provide the best care possible to their patients. They have a set of guidelines that they must follow, and a standard of care that they must meet. This includes listening to their patients and taking what they say into account. If they are unable to fulfill the patient’s expectations, they should transfer the patient into the care of another doctor.


Dereliction is also referred to as negligence and deviation from the standard of care. Dereliction can apply to several different violations that could contribute to medical malpractice. Some examples of dereliction are:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Prescribing the wrong medication or treatment


Another component of medical malpractice damages. Damages incur when the physician’s breach of duty has led the patient to suffer some injury, whether it be physical or emotional.

Direct Cause

Finally, the patient must be able to prove that their doctor directly caused the adverse effects they are experiencing. For example, if someone breaks their leg and it doesn’t heal correctly because of how the doctor put on the cast, that would be a direct cause. However, if something the patient does disturbs or compromises the cast, that would not be a direct cause.

Seeking justice for medical malpractice

If you are experiencing adverse effects after seeking medical treatment and you believe all these conditions are present in your situation, you could have grounds for a medical malpractice suit.

It is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to get the best outcome from a lawsuit.