Hall v. Hilbun- The four D’s of negligence
The four D’s of negligence are duty, dereliction of duty, direct or proximate cause, and
damages. In order to obtain a judgment of negligence against a doctor the patient has to be able
to show all four D’s in the case. In the case Hall v. Hilbun, Mrs. Hall was the patient and Dr.
Hilbun was her surgeon.
Duty is the responsibility that a doctor has to a patient. A patient has to prove that a
relationship with the doctor has been established. In the case Hall v. Hilbun there was a
relationship established when Mrs. Hall was admitted to the Singing River Hospital complaining
of discomfort in her abdomen, and Dr. Hilbun was asked to examine her. On examination, Mrs.
Hall was told by Dr. Hilbun that the pain was probably from a small bowel obstruction and that
she would need surgery to fix it.
Dereliction of duty is when a doctor doesn’t act as another ordinary doctor would under
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Hall had already passed away.
Direct cause is the continuous sequence of events, unbroken by any intervening cause,
that produces an injury and without which the injury would not have occurred. Direct cause
means that the injury was closely related to the physician’s negligence. Mr. Hall had told the
nursing staff that his wife was complaining of pain so the nurses gave Mrs. Hall morphine. He
then told the nurses that it seemed like his wife was having trouble breathing and was told it was
considered normal after surgery. Later on Mrs. Hall complained again of pain and was given a
sedative. She fell asleep and continued to have trouble breathing. Mr. Hall reported this to the
nurses as well, and was told again, that it was considered normal. Only when Mr. Hall noticed
his wife was having even more trouble breathing and was starting to turn blue did Dr. Hilbun
come and check on Mrs. Hill. By that time, it was too late and Mrs. Hall had died. Also, Dr.
Hilbun never gave the nurses any information about when he should be contacted in his orders. If
Dr. Hilbun took the time to check on his patient after surgery it’s possible he would have seen
the trouble Mrs. Hall was having and he could have examined her to see where and why she was
having pain, and why she was having trouble breathing. It’s possible something could have
been done to prevent her death.
Lastly, damages are injures caused by the defendant. Patients can seek recovery, or
compensation, for a variety of damages including permanent physical disability, permanent
mental disability, loss of enjoyment of life, personal injuries, past and future loss of earnings,
medical and hospital expenses, or pain and suffering. If the patient does not receive any injury,
then there isn't a negligence case. If a patient’s death has been caused by the physician’s
negligence, the deceased person’s dependents and heirs may sue for wrongful death. Mr. Hall
filed a malpractice/wrongful death action against Hilbun. He alleged that Hilbun failed to inquire
about Mrs Hall’s recovery and failed to give proper instructions to the hospital nurses.
Fremgen, B, F.(2012). Medical Law and Ethics. New Jersey:Pearson Prentice Hall
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