Psychiatric treatment can be a demanding, complex, and emotional experience for both doctor and patient. Because of the personal nature of the treatment, sometimes it is hard to tell when the doctor has committed malpractice.
Why is it important to differentiate between malpractice and simply poor doctoring? Because in a successful malpractice case, the patient can recover money damages to compensate for injury, including emotional harm. Alternatives to a malpractice lawsuit include filing a human rights complaint, filing a complaint with the psychiatrist’s employer, filing an ethics charge against the psychiatrist, writing negative online reviews for the psychiatrist, or speaking with the psychiatrist directly. However, these alternatives will not provide recompense to the patient for any harm inflicted.
In order to establish a malpractice lawsuit, a patient generally has to establish four elements:
Psychiatrists have been found to commit malpractice by, among other things:
This list is not exhaustive. Nor is every item on the list a malpractice lawsuit per se. Recall the four elements above. For a psychiatrist to be liable for malpractice, he or she must have failed to take reasonable care, and the patient must have suffered injury as a result. A doctor can take reasonable care and still make an incorrect judgment call, so not every incorrect decision is actionable as malpractice. However, some items on the list—for example, engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient—almost always lead to prevailing malpractice claims.
Many cases of psychiatric malpractice are never reported because the victims are already emotionally unstable. If you suspect that you have been a victim of psychiatric malpractice, consider consulting a local attorney.
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