Psychiatric Malpractice


Updated

Jul 23, 2018

The attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are familiar with the devastating effects psychiatric malpractice or negligence can have on a patient and/or their family. A psychiatrist, as a medical professional, owes patients and their families, a certain duty of care. If this duty of care is broken, patients may be further traumatized, develop a fear of seeking help, or commit suicide. Our attorneys understand the delicate nature of these cases and have the resources necessary to help injured patients recover compensation for their suffering.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of psychiatric malpractice or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. To have your claim reviewed by one of the psychiatric medical malpractice attorneys at our Florida offices, please fill out our no cost, no obligation case review form today.

What is Psychiatric Malpractice?

Patients who seek the counsel of a psychiatrist are often vulnerable and, in some cases, unstable. They expect the mental health professional in whom they confide to offer a system of support that may be otherwise unattainable. As a medical professional choosing to specialize in this intimate field, psychiatrists must provide a level of care that is reasonable and reassuring. They must also act as other psychiatrists would act in a similar situation. When this duty is breached, the psychiatrist may be liable for any resulting damages.

Some examples of psychiatric malpractice include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual relationships with patients
  • Failure to document medication history, including dosage and basis for prescription
  • Failure to obtain information
  • Failure to properly diagnose the patient
  • Negligent use of psychopharmacologic agents
  • Failure to obtain informed consent
  • Revealing information protected by confidentiality, unless necessary for the safety of the patient or others
  • Abandonment
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Negligent psychiatric hospital care
  • Negligence in supervision
  • False imprisonment or the use of restraints

A psychiatrist’s legal duty varies by case, and depends on the level of care required by the patient and his or her mental state. In cases of suicide, the standard of care a psychiatrist must meet hinges on the doctor’s assessment of the patient’s suicidal risk, rather than the prediction of such an event. In suicidal patients, a doctor may be liable for damages if they could have or should have reasonably noticed a foreseeable risk of injury and failed to act.

If a psychiatrist misses or fails to report the following, he could be held accountable for the patient’s death:

  • Failing to notice signs that a patient may be a risk to themselves or others;
  • Failure to prevent patients from harming themselves;
  • Documenting the first suicidal risk assessment, and not others;
  • Failure to monitor a suicidal patient;
  • Failure to evaluate the environment and safety of a suicidal patient; and
  • Failure to warn a third party when there is an imminent threat of harm, as required by law.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me File a Claim for Psychiatric Malpractice?

A psychiatric malpractice attorney can help a patient, or their family, establish four essential elements to prove a psychiatric malpractice.

To have a successful claim for medical malpractice or negligence, it must be established that:

  • There was a doctor/patient relationship in which the patient was owed a certain duty of care.
  • The practitioner violated that duty of care, either through negligence or exceeding permissible occupational boundaries.
  • The patient experienced pain, suffering, or death as a result of the breach.
  • There was a causal link between the breach and the injury suffered by the patient.

A medical malpractice attorney can collect evidence, conduct witness statements, and review doctor’s files to substantiate your claim and prove the causal connection between the breach of duty and injury.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of psychiatric medical malpractice, you may have legal recourse. To have a psychiatric injury attorney at our firm review your claim, please fill out our free case evaluation form today.

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