Understanding the Four Ds in Medical Malpractice

healthcare-email-listsThe US medical industry is on high alert due to the alarming number of medical malpractices reported in recent years . Such agonizing trends have prompted various investigations to try and uncover the root causes.

Accordingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has been blamed as one of the significant causes of the increase of medical malpractice instances in the US. The strain on the healthcare system has been one of the major propagators of malpractice cases, as doctors are often pushed to the limit and hospital floors are understaffed.

That said, this article will divulge the ‘Four Ds’ that underpin medical malpractice. It will shed light on the integral factors surrounding this issue and raise awareness on the same.


Duty of care is expected of any medical practitioner when interacting with their patient. It begins once a doctor decides to treat a patient that has requested their service.

You should note that duty of care is a priority for all medical practitioners regardless of their area of expertise or level of experience. For instance, a newly qualified doctor is expected to provide the same level of care as a more experienced one.

Therefore, if your doctor breaches their duty and you sustain injuries because of it, whether physical or psychological, you may be liable for a medical malpractice claim against this individual.


Dereliction is the term used to describe instances where doctors fail to uphold their agreed-upon duty of care. For example, if a dentist promises to maintain a clean environment during your procedure and fails to do so, then that is dereliction.

Dereliction encompasses broad cases in the medical industry. Ideally, any complication arising due to failure of duty on the practitioner’s part could be termed dereliction.

Typical examples include:

  • Missed or Misdiagnosis – when a doctor fails to note your symptoms or misdiagnoses them.
  • Prescription errors – when your physician prescribes the wrong medication leading to complications or aggravation of your condition.
  • Surgical or Post operation negligence – encompasses errors your surgeon may make during or after the procedure, such as operating on the wrong body part.
  • Birth injuries – such complications can affect the infant, the mother, or both.

Damages and Direct Causation

These two Ds go hand in hand as they are connected in every medical malpractice claim. On the one hand, damages refer to the complications developed by the patient. On the other hand, direct causation is the connection between the medical dereliction and the damages. You should note that as a claimant, you need to prove that the doctor’s actions, or lack thereof, directly led to the injuries you sustained.

Proving damages and direct causation is one of the key pieces of evidence used in medical malpractice lawsuits. Hence, you need to have another doctor diagnose the injuries and back up your claims.

Key Takeaways

Medical malpractice cases are rising, and many go unreported or even unnoticed. Understanding the four Ds that can be the base for a medical malpractice claim in the US is pivotal to take control of your case and increase the likelihood of succeeding.

“You should hire an attorney who handles such cases to help you pursue your claim” says attorney Russell J. Berkowitz of Berkowitz Hanna. “You may be overwhelmed recuperating from the injury, meaning you likely cannot make it to court and need trustworthy counsel.”

An attorney can handle much of the legal proceedings in your absence, allowing you to focus on your physical and/or mental health.

If you have any questions, please ask below!