What is Psychiatric Malpractice?

Thursday, December 9, 2021

What is Psychiatric Malpractice?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Psychiatric malpractice is just as harmful as other types of malpractice, but it is often more difficult to prove. These claims are often met with skepticism, especially because of the vulnerable nature of those patients who seek treatment in the first place. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you.

The Types of Psychiatric Malpractice

Malpractice performed by psychiatrists is different than that of medical doctors. Instead, these are typically negligence or an abuse of power. Negligence can occur during misdiagnosis or failure to document patient information, as well as failure to prescribe the proper psychiatric medication. Psychiatrists who take on too many patients may also find that they are unable to provide their patients with adequate, reasonable care.

The Abuse of Power

There are numerous ways in which a psychiatrist can abuse his or her power over a vulnerable patient. Some ways include:

  1. Sharing information without the patient’s consent
  2. Abusing or threatening the patient (verbally or physically)
  3. Engaging in a sexual relationship with the patient
  4. Abandoning the patient
  5. Using restraints unnecessarily
  6. Sexual abuse

Malpractice and Suicidal Patients

The law does require that a psychiatrist to contact a third party when there is a risk that his or her patients may commit suicide or cause harm to themselves. If the psychiatrist fails to take action and prevent a patient’s suicide – and knew that the patient had intended to commit suicide – then he or she could be held liable under a wrongful death action. Psychiatrists are also responsible for documenting all attempts at suicide, noting their patient’s specific patterns, and looking for indications that they may harm themselves.

The Effects of Psychiatric Malpractice

Psychiatric malpractice can lead to emotional distress or physical injury. If a patient is prescribed a medication that is unnecessary for his or her condition, it could have adverse side-effects, or even lead to death. Also, a patient who requires medication to control his or her psychiatric condition, but doesn’t receive such medication, could suffer from adverse harm – or possibly death.

Patients visit a psychiatrist because they have some sort of emotional trauma that they need assistance with. This is why psychiatric malpractice can be even more damaging. Patients can become a danger to others, or suicidal from the trauma. Also, new psychological disorders could develop as a result of the malpractice – requiring longer treatment, or resulting in long-term disability.

Filing a Psychiatric Malpractice Lawsuit

Psychiatric malpractice is handled under medical malpractice lawsuits. It requires the same criteria in order to file a successful claim, which is:

  1. The patient must prove that a doctor/patient relationship existed
  2. The patient must prove that the psychiatrist violated his or her duty of care
  3. The patient must have experienced harm
  4. The harm must be linked to the violation of the psychiatrist’s duty of care

Speak with a Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney Regarding Your Case

If you or a loved one was injured because of a psychiatrist’s failure to perform his or her duties, then you may be entitled to compensation under the law. Contact a Champaign Personal Injury Lawyer at Malman Law today. We offer free case evaluations and are here to answer your call 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Fill out our online contact form with your questions today.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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