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4 D’s of Negligence

4 D’s of Negligence

People see a doctor when they are injured or sick and they never expect to be harmed as a result of a healthcare professional’s negligence. Unfortunately, individuals sometimes suffer from additional injuries when they visit a doctor who is negligent and does not provide the proper standard of care. In these cases, injured individuals can file a medical malpractice claim against the healthcare professional that injured them. When filing a claim, you must prove the four D’s of negligence. Our New York City medical malpractice lawyer can help you prove your case and recover the damages you deserve.

The 4 D’s of Negligence

Duty of Care

Any healthcare professional who has entered into a doctor-patient relationship owes the patient a high duty of care. Essentially, this means they must provide appropriate medical care in a competent and reasonable manner. Proving that a healthcare professional owed you a duty of care is one of the easier elements to prove in your case, as it is usually quite obvious who is responsible for a certain patient.

Even if you visit an emergency room, or you are admitted to the hospital, there is a doctor-patient relationship formed with all of the healthcare professionals in the facility. As such, even if you are harmed by someone that was not directly treating you, it is still possible to file a medical malpractice claim against the hospital or clinic because the individual still owed you a duty of care.

Deviation of Duty of Care

When a healthcare professional acts negligently, and does not provide the appropriate standard of care, they deviate from their duty. Proving a deviation of duty is not easy, and an unsuccessful result is not always enough to file a claim. For example, a doctor may recommend one course of treatment for a patient without the patient getting any better. As long as the treatment prescribed was in line with the accepted standards of care, the patient would not have a claim even though they did not get better. When proving that a healthcare professional deviated from the duty of care, you must show:

  • The healthcare professional did not act in accordance with the best practices in their field,
  • A healthcare professional in the same field would have acted differently, and
  • Any healthcare professional in the same situation would have acted differently

Sometimes, proving the above elements in your case is easy. If a doctor was intoxicated while casting someone’s broken leg, it may result in an injury that requires surgery in the future. In this case, proving the deviation of care would be easy because doctors should clearly not be under the influence of alcohol when they are treating patients.

Other times, however, proving deviation of duty is not so easy. A patient that has a rare disease may see three different specialists and each of those experts may arrive at a different diagnosis. In this case, none of the doctors may be negligent as they try to determine the type of illness the patient is suffering from. A lawyer will collect evidence and reach out to their network of experts when trying to determine if a healthcare professional acted negligently. Some of the most common acts of negligence by doctors include making an incorrect diagnosis, missing a diagnosis, prescribing the incorrect type of medication, and surgical errors.


Medical malpractice claims are intended to compensate you for any injuries or other losses you sustained as a result. In personal injury law, this compensation is known as damages. If you did not sustain any damages, there is nothing to compensate you for and so, you do not have a valid claim.

For example, if a doctor prescribed you the wrong medication, you may suffer from side effects or it may negatively react with other medication you are taking. If you need additional medical treatment for these reactions, you will incur damages such as medical expenses, and you may have to miss time from work. These are damages you can recover in a medical malpractice claim.

On the other hand, a doctor may prescribe a wrong medication that does not cause any side effects or other injuries or losses. In this case, because you did not sustain any damages, you could not file a claim to recover them. The losses you include in your case do not have to be physical injuries. Emotional distress is another type of damage that you can pursue in medical malpractice claims.

Direct Cause

The last element of your medical malpractice case you must prove is that the healthcare professional’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries. For example, you may have surgery to correct a medical issue. Afterwards, the surgeon or your doctor will provide you with post-operative care instructions to ensure you heal correctly and that you do not suffer any harm. If the doctor does not provide you with these instructions, and the site becomes infected or you otherwise suffer from harm, the doctor may be found negligent.

However, if the doctor provided the necessary post-operative care instructions and you did not follow them, suffering harm as a result, you cannot hold the doctor liable for paying damages. In this case, the harm you suffered was caused by your own failure to follow the directions. Therefore, the doctor was not to blame for your injuries and cannot be held liable in a claim.

Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers in New York City Can Prove Your Case

If you have been hurt by medical malpractice, you can file a claim for damages, but these cases are incredibly complex and you should not file a claim on your own. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our New York City medical malpractice lawyers have the necessary skill and experience with these claims to prove them successfully and help you secure the fair settlement you deserve. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and to obtain the sound legal advice you need during this difficult time.