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Philadelphia Med Mal & Birth Injury Lawyer / Blog / Medical Malpractice / What are the 4 Ds of Medical Malpractice?

What are the 4 Ds of Medical Malpractice?


The four Ds of a medical malpractice lawsuit are:

  • Defendant had a duty of care to the Plaintiff.
  • Defendant’s deviation from that duty
  • Directly caused, contributed to, and/or increased the risk of harm under Pennsylvania law
  • Plaintiff’s damages.

If you’ve been injured due to medical malpractice, you must prove these four elements by a preponderance of the evidence to receive compensation for your injury.

Call noted Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer Heidi G. Villari for help with your medical malpractice claim. Proving each element often requires in-depth investigation into the facts and the use of actuarial and medical expert analysis and testimony, in addition to thorough knowledge of the law and average compensability of injuries, depending upon the nature and severity of those injuries.

Ms. Villari has over 20 years of experience helping victims of medical malpractice get the compensation they deserve. She will discuss your medical malpractice claim with you, free of charge. Call her today at 267-388-9429 for your case review.

Duty of Care

Not every doctor has a duty to every person they encounter. A medical malpractice Plaintiff must show that they had a “doctor-patient relationship” with the defendant through documentation such as the Plaintiff’s medical records and any waivers they’ve signed.

Whether the defendant is a doctor, nurse, medical assistant, hospital, or some or all of these parties, the Plaintiff’s medical records establish who had a contractual duty to the Plaintiff to provide a standard of care.

What is the standard of care?

This varies depending upon the nature of the defendant’s work and the locality. That said, it is generally a duty to treat a patient with that degree of skill, care, and diligence possessed by or expected of a reasonably competent physician under the same or similar circumstances.

Deviation from or Dereliction of Duty

The Plaintiff must find and employ medical experts to analyze the facts and Plaintiff’s injuries and testify as to whether the defendant or defendants deviated from the applicable standard of care, or in other words, breached their duty to the Plaintiff. They will describe under oath what the applicable standard care was and how the defendants’ actions or inaction deviated from that standard of care.

Direct Cause

Causation is another element that medical experts establish. If the defendant’s or defendants’ actions or inaction directly caused the Plaintiff’s injuries, they are liable to the Plaintiff for Plaintiff’s damages.


It is not enough to show that the defendants owed the Plaintiff a duty and breached that duty. The Plaintiff must also show that they suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s or defendants’ breach and must offer proof such as medical records or testimony.

Compensable damages may take the form some or all of the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Permanent disability or loss of function
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

The Importance of Finding an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you’ve been injured due to medical malpractice, you need a medical malpractice attorney with experience in your jurisdiction to help you not only prove each element of your claim but to maximize your compensation. Also, you need a skilled negotiator to represent you in settlement negotiations with the insurance company and their team of lawyers, and to vigorously pursue your claim in court should settlement negotiations fail.

Many people believe doctors are infallible, but this is not the case. Just as in any other profession, there are good doctors and not so good doctors, and even the best doctor can get distracted or make a mistake. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will have medical and actuarial experts on hand to assess your case and testify for you regarding the duty of care and how defendants breached that duty, directly causing your damages.

Talk with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you are a victim of medical malpractice and you live in or near Philadelphia or South Jersey, call Heidi G. Villari for help. Ms. Villari has dedicated her career to helping her clients get the compensation they deserve for their injury, which they suffered through no fault of their own. Help hold negligent medical professionals accountable for their mistakes. Call Ms Villari today for your free case evaluation.

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