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What Are the 4 Ds of Medical Negligence?

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Hospital Negligence on January 6, 2021

Medical malpractice describes a hospital or practitioner’s preventable mistake harming or taking the life of a patient. If you sustain a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice, you have the right to file a lawsuit in Florida. However, it is your responsibility to prove your claim is more likely to be true than not true. Before you can recover financial compensation, you must prove the four Ds of medical malpractice.


The first D is a duty. Duty refers to the duty of care; specifically, a health care provider’s duty of care in a medical malpractice claim. All physicians, surgeons, nurses, dentists, and other health care practitioners owe legal duties of care to their patients. These duties of care help ensure proper patient treatment.

They include:


  • Providing care to a patient even if he or she cannot pay.
  • Listening to a patient’s symptoms.
  • Respecting the patient’s requests.
  • Exercising compassion inpatient care.
  • Ordering the proper medical tests.
  • Referring the patient to a specialist, if appropriate.
  • Providing adequate treatment overall.


A physician or hospital’s exact duties of care will depend on the situation. Bringing a claim against the hospital itself could involve the duty to maintain reasonably safe premises and properly train employees, for example. To establish a duty of care, you will need to prove that you were a patient of the doctor or hospital at the time of the alleged malpractice. Only the doctor-patient relationship will establish a duty of care in a medical malpractice claim.


The second D, deviation, describes a breach of the duty of care. This is the act of medical negligence or malpractice that has led to the civil claim. A deviation can refer to any act or omission by the health care provider that another reasonable and prudent provider would not have made in similar circumstances. It may take testimony from a medical expert to establish the defendant’s deviation from the accepted standards of care.


  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Medication error
  • Miscommunication
  • Surgical mistake
  • Anesthesia error
  • Birth injury


These are common examples of deviations from the duty of care that lead to medical malpractice claims in Florida. Any mistake that falls outside of the provider’s legal or ethical duty of care to you as a patient could constitute medical malpractice.


Damages refer to your injuries and losses connected to medical malpractice. In Florida, you cannot bring a medical malpractice claim unless the health care provider’s negligence harmed you. Even if you have proof that a doctor failed to fulfill the accepted standards of care for the medical industry, you will not have grounds to file a claim unless this deviation gave you or a loved one real, compensable damages. Damages can include injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and a loved one’s death.

Direct Cause

The final D of a medical malpractice claim is the direct cause. You or your attorney must prove the defendant’s deviation from the duty of care directly caused or significantly contributed to your damages. If a cancer misdiagnosis led to a delay in receiving treatment that could have saved your life, for example, the doctor that negligently misdiagnosed you could be liable. If cancer would have been terminal even with a prompt diagnosis, however, the doctor might not be liable since he or she was not the direct cause of your harm.

Contact an Attorney

Navigating the four Ds of a medical malpractice claim in Florida can be difficult. It involves complicated doctrines, many different legal requirements, and fulfilling a steep burden of proof. The best way to build a strong medical malpractice claim is by hiring a medical malpractice attorney in Tampa. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you collect and present evidence establishing all four Ds for a successful claim.