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Psychiatric Malpractice

Psychiatric malpractice lawsuits are a variation of medical malpractice that involve psychiatrists instead of physicians. Though psychiatrists are trained medical doctors, they also have training in psychotherapy techniques and psychopharmacological drugs.

 

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Psychiatrists also differ from other psychotherapists, who may have either a PhD or PsyD from an accredited university and are licensed by the state or are licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs).

Psychiatrists' basic training is in medicine and the treatment of mental disorders from a medical and pharmacological perspective. Some psychiatrists help patients by administering psychotherapy and drug treatment while others work with a trained psychotherapist and primarily administer prescription medication to the patients.

In the late 1980's through 1990's many psychiatrists were implicated in recovered memory lawsuits as patients were claiming their doctors had implanted false or fraudulent memories with them while in treatment. Recovered memory lawsuits have dwindled in numbers since the turn of the century, but other psychiatric malpractice lawsuits still remain.

Psychiatric Malpractice Lawsuits

Psychiatric malpractice lawsuits may include the following components:

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Failure to treat
  • Sexual Misconduct
  • Negligent use or monitoring of psychopharmacological drugs
  • Failure to get signed consent for treatment
  • Failure to prevent patients from harming selves
  • Failure to prevent patients from harming others
  • False imprisonment (restraints or seclusion)
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Defamation
  • Abandonment
  • Fraud & malfeasance
  • Negligent supervision
  • Negligent psychotherapy
  • Assault and battery
  • Wrongful death

Psychiatric malpractice lawsuits are generally based upon either negligence or intentional torts. In either case, the plaintiff's attorney must convince a jury on four points when making the case. The four points include:

1. Doctor-patient relationship existed
2. The psychiatrist breached the duty of reasonable care
3. A physical, mental or emotional injury must have occurred
4. The breach of care was the proximate cause of the injury

Besides bringing forth a psychiatric malpractice lawsuit, there are some other actions that may be taken as well against an offending psychiatrist. Filing a complaint with the psychiatrist's employer, filing an ethics complaint with the review board or filing a human rights complaint are other actions that can be taken either in lieu of or in addition to a psychiatric malpractice lawsuit.

In bringing forth litigation for psychiatric malpractice there are statute of limitations issues to consider, which vary from state to state. It is advisable to check with a medical malpractice attorney when considering a case for psychiatric malpractice, so that all filing deadlines and the complexity of the event may be discussed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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