Glossary of Medical Malpractice Law Terms “D” 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #


DES: Diethylstilbestrol (DES) used to be prescribed to pregnant women believed to need more estrogen to maintain their pregnancies. Some of the daughters of these women, who were exposed in the womb to DES, developed a rare form of vaginal cancer.

Damages: Monetary compensation claimed by a person who has suffered a loss or injury to his person, property or rights as a result of the negligence or unlawful conduct of another.

Decedent: A dead person.

Decree: An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully disposes of the litigation.

Default: Failure of either party to file required documents or appear in a civil case within a certain period of time.

Defendant: The person or party sued in a civil case or accused in a criminal case.

Deposition: The testimony of a witness, taken out of court and usually prior to trial.

Direct examination: Questioning of a witness by the party who calls the witness.

Directed verdict: A judgment entered by the judge without allowing the jury to participate.

Disciplinary Hearing: A hearing or professional review conducted by any state or federal administrative agency, licensing or regulatory authority responsible for regulating professional conduct.

Discovery: The pre-trial process in which one party discovers the evidence that will be relied upon at trial by the opposing party.

Dismemberment: Loss of sight means total loss of sight which cannot be restored by surgical or other means; loss of hand means that a hand is permanently severed at or above the wrist; and loss of foot means that a foot is permanently severed at or above the ankle.

Dismissal with prejudice: An order to dismiss a case in which the court bars the plaintiff from suing again on the same cause of action.

Dismissal without prejudice: An order to dismiss a case in which the court preserves the plaintiff’s right to sue again on the same cause of action.

Duract: A brand of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), Duract was recalled after rare cases of sever hepatitis and liver failure were reported in people who took the drug longer than directed.

Dysarthria: A speech disorder that often affects people with cerebral palsy, caused by a weakness in the muscles that produce speech. In mild cases, there may only be a slight slurring of speech; in more severe cases, the person may depend upon a voice output system to speak.

Dystonia: Involuntary slow, sustained muscle contractions resulting in abnormal postures and twisting motions of arms, legs, and trunk.