Medical malpractice can be an especially damaging form of negligence. If a doctor or other health care professional has made a mistake or has been negligent in any form, patients could not only suffer injuries or illnesses but also lose trust in the medical system.
In addition, bearing the emotional burden that may come with long-term physical pain can make filing a claim more difficult, which is why some medical negligence solicitors advise patients for free and are only paid if a case is successful. But how do you know if medical malpractice has indeed taken place?
To make it easier, the “four Ds” can be used as a guideline.
- Direct Causation
What do the four Ds of medical malpractice mean?
Duty determines if it was the responsibility of the doctor to care and treat the patient. For this to be the case, there needs to be a doctor-patient relationship. A doctor who treats someone outside of their office, for example, when someone requires help in case of an emergency, may not be subject to the same medical negligence requirements.
Deviation occurs when doctor does not meet the standard requirements to treat and care for a patient. This is the duty of the health care professional when a relationship with a patient is established (as mentioned above). Sometimes this is referred to as dereliction.
This is where a patient must prove that the damages occurred as a direct result of the health care professional’s failure to properly care for or treat the patient. Sometimes this is difficult to determine, other times it is clear where the responsibility lies.
What damages has the patient suffered? These do not necessarily have to be physical injuries but can also be mental/emotional. There are different ways to prove damages – sometimes medical records provide enough evidence; other times testimonies are used to prove the case.
It is often best to speak to a solicitor about the case who can then assess whether there is a claim to any damages.
Medical negligence claims can take an emotional toll
Depending on the case, medical malpractice suits can be lengthy and time consuming, which is why they often place a burden on patients. Even if a case is very clear, the emotional burden of filing a lawsuit may feel overwhelming at times. For this reason, having the support of relatives and friends or even strangers who have suffered the same damages can be very helpful and make the process easier.