A doctor’s primary duty is to care for patients, help restore their health and ensure they’re in a great state before discharging them. As a result, patients out to trust and be comfortable with their physicians. Sadly, that’s not the case for some people who deal with medical negligence every year.
Estimates have shown that medical negligence often result in errors which cost as must as almost 450,000 lives every year. That’s an incredibly huge number. In fact, studies have shown that these medical errors are the third leading cause of death in hospitals these days –right behind cancers and heart disease.
While cancers and heart diseases aren’t usually caused by medical negligence, the errors that rise from negligence cause these injuries, infections, harm and death. This basically means that they could have been prevented if the doctor and other healthcare professionals had been paying attention.
Most people who are victims of medical negligence don’t even know that they have a right and an opportunity to claim compensation for the harm caused them or the loss of life of their loved ones.
But to do this, they would have to clearly establish that their injury, infection, or death of their loved one was directly connected to a medical personnel’s negligence. Cases like this often require that a criteria be met before the patient or victim can file a malpractice suit and receive compensation.
These four requirements are known as the four Ds. Let’s look at each of these elements:
Duty of Care
As a rule, all physicians are trained and obligated to provide a universally acceptable standard of care for all patients in their care.
This often entails ensuring that all care standards are maintained while the patients are undergoing treatment, providing patients with adequate information regarding certain procedures and its risks, and making sure that the private information of all patients are kept secure.
Also, doctors are required to inform their patients of their scope of expertise and their specialty. This way, a patient can decide if that’s who they really want treating them or not. For example, if a patient has breast cancer, they’re best treated by an oncologist whose area of specialization is breast cancer.
So, if the patient walks into a GP or an internist’s office, it is imperative that the physician informs them that they actually need the services of an oncologist, and maybe refer them to one with proven expertise and experience if the patient is open to that.
Dereliction or Deviation
This is when a physician refuses or fails to maintain the standard of relationship between them and their patients. This often has the implications of a breach of trust between the patient and them.
When a patient walks into a hospital, they expect a certain standard of care and environment, as well as the establishment of certain boundaries. The agreement between the patient and doctor must be adhered to within the limits of the agreement.
So, when that hospital or doctor doesn’t meet to their realistic expectations, exceeds their boundaries, or fails in their promise of care, this is known as dereliction.
A good example of this is a physician telling a patient they’ll need a mastectomy of one breast to stop the spread of cancer. But, on getting to the OR, the doctor decides to remove the second breast without any prior agreement.
If this happens, the patient is well within their rights to sue the doctor, just because they didn’t clear it with them first. This is why most doctors would rather do the agreed operation, wait until the patient is better and tell them they need to do the second one.
Direct Causation –Negligence Directly Linked to Injury and Harm
Did the doctor’s actions or inactions directly result in the patient sustaining an injury, getting an infection or even dying? If yes, then this is known as direct causation. It means that the doctor’s actions can be directly linked to that negative outcome.
For example, if a doctor prescribed the wrong medication for a patient and the patient has an adverse reaction that affected them badly, the doctor can be held liable. Another example is if a doctor misdiagnoses a condition, and the patient’s condition worsens or they die.
The point is, as long as there is a direct link between the doctor’s actions or inactions and the patient’s worsened condition, the patient or their loved ones have a case.
Finally, when the case is filed, usually by a Malpractice Lawyer New York City or one in their area, the courts will examine the evidence before them, showing that the doctor was guilty of medical negligence. And that their negligence resulted in physical, or emotional harm, and maybe even death.
The courts will then look at the extent of damage that was caused as a result of the negligence. This is usually in the form of wage loss, loss of life, physical injury resulting in disability and so on. It will then award compensation based on the information available to it.