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Does My Insurance Protect Me Against Psychiatry Malpractice - morgan and morgan
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Does My Insurance Protect Me Against Psychiatry Malpractice?

Does My Insurance Protect Me Against Psychiatry Malpractice?

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Does My Insurance Protect Me Against Psychiatry Malpractice?

A psychiatrist who's accused of malpractice needs to understand that they need to respond quickly and professionally to these claims. It is a serious matter even when you believe that the patient is mistaken or is taking wrongful action against you. 

You need to be prepared to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible because there are so many different aspects of these types of cases, and you may be curious about whether psychiatry malpractice insurance will protect you against claims made by somebody else. 

When you undertake a relationship with a patient, you do so with a clear understanding of the many different rules associated with ethics. It is vital to have psychiatrist medical malpractice insurance in place in the event that someone accuses you of breaching the standard of care in your practice. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is also extremely important for any psychiatrist when they believe that they are about to be accused or have already been accused by a patient of getting involved in illegal or unethical behavior. The matter of responding to this is important because the evidence will need to be gathered sooner rather than later. Psychiatrists often get peace of mind from carrying psychiatrist malpractice insurance but also need to understand the circumstances in which it can and cannot be used. 

Psychiatry malpractice insurance may be covered under your professional liability insurance policy. It is very important to read through the fine print and any details associated with your malpractice situation with your malpractice insurance so that you can recognize policy limits. Psychiatry malpractice may be different from malpractice that is performed by other types of medical doctors; however, psychiatrists are also bound by a high standard of care and their own set of ethics. It is often very difficult to prove that someone is engaged in psychiatric malpractice, but anyone who has been accused of this should protect their ability to practice and their reputation by responding quickly.

Types of Psychiatric Malpractice

Typically, malpractice issues in psychiatric practices have to do with an abuse of power or negligence. Abuse of power can occur anytime in which a psychiatrist has crossed a line in a relationship with someone or uses personal information that they learned about their patients to breach doctor-patient confidentiality by informing someone else of this information. 

For example, a psychiatrist who hears that a patient hates their boss and then communicates with that boss this information is a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. Negligence can happen as a result of failure to document patient information, failure to provide appropriate psychiatric medication, or misdiagnosis. Psychiatrists who take on too many patients are those who are most likely to be accused of psychiatric malpractice.

Understanding Abuse of Power

There are many different ways in which a psychiatrist can abuse their power over a vulnerable patient. Patients place a great deal of trust in their psychiatric provider and do not expect that these lines will be crossed. However, divulging details and failing to get the patient's consent, sexual abuse, using unnecessary restraint, abandoning the patient, threatening or abusing the patient, or engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient can all be indications of a violation of the doctor-patient relationship. 

There is a special consideration for those patients who have indicated suicidal ideation. When there is a risk that a patient will harm themselves or commit suicide, a psychiatrist could be held responsible if they knew that the patient intended to commit suicide. 

Impacts of Psychiatric Malpractice

Psychiatric malpractice can cause victims to suffer physical injury or emotional distress. Likewise, if a patient is given a drug that is not necessary for their condition, this could have significant serious side effects. Any patient who needs a prescription medication to treat their existing psychiatric issues but does not get it could also suffer from significant harm or possibly even death. The emotional trauma that prompts many people to visit a psychiatrist can be very difficult for people to grapple with when they believe that their psychiatrist has crossed the line.

What Psychiatrists Should Know About Malpractice Lawsuits

Psychiatric malpractice comes down to a number of different factors that the victim must prove in order to be successful in a lawsuit. Psychiatric malpractice is covered under medical malpractice lawsuits and requires the same kinds of criteria to file a successful claim, which is that: a doctor-patient relationship must have existed, that the patient must prove that the psychiatrist violated their duty of care, that the patient suffered harm as a result of doing this, and that the harm is linked to psychiatrist’s duty of care. Reading through an insurance policy associated with the standard of care and medical malpractice can help a psychiatrist determine whether or not they could be named in a lawsuit like this and what to expect as far as how to respond.

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  • What Should I Consider When Buying Insurance?

    It’s smart for all psychiatrists to have some form of malpractice insurance to give them peace of mind. Not all policies are created equal, however. You want to know upfront what your policy limits are in the event you’re accused of malpractice. There are two main kinds of coverage as it relates to psychiatry malpractice insurance, those based on claims and those based on occurrences. 

    Occurrences cover treatments and incidents that happened while the coverage was in place, even if the insurance coverage today is no longer active. Claims-based coverage, however, is different in that your policy must still be active at the time a claim comes forward. Standard coverage limits apply, but you can always ask the insurance company if additional coverage is possible. 

  • Do I Need a Lawyer for a Malpractice Claim?

    Going in front of your state board to deal with a claim made against you as a psychiatrist is a serious matter. You want to know that you have an experienced lawyer at your side for this kind of support when your reputation and your livelihood are on the line. Even when your insurance coverage will cover the claim and help you put this chapter of your life behind you, it’s a good idea to work with an attorney who has represented people in these kinds of situations before.

    Likewise, if you’re accusing a psychiatrist of malpractice, you need to know what grounds do and do not make up such a claim before you move forward with a suit. 

  • What Evidence Is Needed? 

    In a claim against a psychiatrist, a victim must be able to show that the doctor in question deviated in some way from a standard form of case. This can be hard to show if you’re not familiar with this area of the law, so you’ll want a lawyer who has been in this situation before to help you. There are many different elements that might apply as evidence. Your own lawyer hired to represent you as a victim might also bring in expert witnesses to show how the care deviated.

    If you’re defending yourself in a psychiatry claim, however, you’ll also want evidence on your side, such as documented treatment notes and other things that support your credibility and the specific actions you took with this patient. 

  • What if I Don’t Have Insurance?

    One of the biggest problems you’ll face if you’ve been accused of malpractice without insurance is that you can be held personally liable for actions. This means that if a patient sues you and is successful in winning a judgment, your personal or business assets might be in question. There’s also much to be said about the time and energy you’ll expend defending yourself in this situation, which can be hard if you also have an active psychiatry practice at the time you’ve been accused. It can also be difficult to keep up with all these details and maintain an active practice, especially when you’re worried about the future and protecting your ability to serve other patients. 

  • What to Look for in a Lawyer 

    With your reputation on the line, who you hire to help you with any claim of malpractice is important. Do the necessary research first to learn more about the firm and other people they have represented. You can learn a lot online by reading reviews and getting a good handle on their experience in psychiatric claims. You’ll want to look through reviews and also ask specifically about how many other people in similar situations they have represented. You can use this information to narrow down your list of lawyers. Meet with your shortlist to discuss the ones you think you might want to work with. An initial consultation with an experienced psychiatry malpractice lawyer can give you a good sense of how they’d handle your case, and you can use this to determine if you want to work with that team.

    Our legal team has a broad range of experience with psychiatrist malpractice cases, including those where insurance is helping to cover at least a portion of the claim. Contact our law firm today to learn more about what to expect in these situations. We can help with a free, no-obligation case evaluation to get you started. 

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Last updated on May 31, 2023

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