Medical Malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by negligence on the part of the doctor or another medical professional. In order to claim medical malpractice, a patient must be able to show that the doctor or medical professional acted with negligence and that negligence directly resulted in injury or harm.
There are four elements (or the Four D’s) of medical malpractice that can help a patient establish a claim:
Duty: A legal “duty of care” must exist in the form of a patient-doctor relationship. In a professional setting where a doctor provides services to a patient, that doctor has a duty to provide a certain level of care and treatment to the patient. When a doctor volunteers to help someone in distress they also have a duty of reasonable care once he undertakes to help. A doctor does not always have a duty to a patient, for instance, if a doctor overhears an announcement for another doctor he would have no duty to offer help.
Dereliction: A “breach in duty” or failure to perform a duty correctly on the part of the doctor. Medical professionals have a defined legal standard of care that they must always meet once agreeing to provide medical treatment. If that standard of care is not met, the patient is required to provide evidence and witness testimony to demonstrate the breach in a doctor’s duty. Examples might include:
- Using unclean or improper surgical techniques
- Misreading lab results
- Prescribing or providing incorrect types or amounts of medication
Direct Cause: The patient must be able to show a direct correlation between the doctor’s breach in duty and the patient’s subsequent injury. Some causation is easy to identify such as the wrong limb being amputated in surgery. However, some causation is much more complex and challenging to prove due to the nature and nuances of the medical profession. Having a well-versed medical malpractice lawyer is essential in the advocacy of a case.
Damages: The patient must be able to show that they suffered specific harm that is able to be rectified by the court. Examples of damages might include:
- Hospital stay bills
- Additional therapies
- Loss of income
- Additional medical treatment
In the United States, the general rules for filing medical malpractice claims vary state-to-state. If you are seeking assistance on a claim in Florida, contact West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorney Ted Babbitt for a free consultation.
Ted has decades of experience holding medical professionals and institutions accountable for their negligence. He has obtained several multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for victims of medical malpractice. His team will give you an honest assessment of your case and explain your legal options. Fill out this online form or call today – (561) 375-2841.