The 4 Elements of Malpractice and What They Mean

This review of the four elements of malpractice and what they mean will be extremely helpful for patients who want to know if they experienced negligence while under the care of medical professionals. All people should know the opportunities afforded to them by civil law. If you or a loved one have lost money as a result of a doctor’s mistakes, you can take legal action.


The first element to understand of the four elements of malpractice and what they mean is duty. For a medical malpractice case to be underway, the plaintiff must establish that the physician owed a duty of care to the patient. They must show they had a doctor-patient relationship, one where the plaintiff could expect the same level of treatment as any person being served by a physician with their doctor’s education and background.


The second element of medical malpractice is dereliction, or “break of duty.” For this element, the plaintiff must show that the physician did not live up to their professional duty. They could prove this with evidence that:

  • The doctor left surgical equipment inside the body
  • The doctor incorrectly diagnosed the patient
  • The doctor failed to recognize symptoms or signs of a condition

Direct Cause

For the third element, the plaintiff must demonstrate that there was a plausible connection between the medical negligence and the injuries sustained by the patient. It is not enough just to show that the physician failed to live up to their duty; you must also show how that mistake had a measurable impact on the patient’s life.


Every personal injury case, including medical malpractice, must show that the patient sustained damages because of the injury. They may have accrued these damages through the cost of the surgery, the lost pay, the diminished quality of life, loss of consortium, and other ways.


Hopefully, this overview of the elements of medical malpractice will assist you should you ever need to sue a medical professional for their negligence. If you need a malpractice insurance plan for nurse practitioners, be sure to check out Baxter & Associates.