Patients often put a lot of trust in their medical care professionals, not only to treat their medical conditions but also to treat them ethically under the law.
When a doctor abuses a patient or violates the law in treating them, then they are opening themselves up to malpractice claims. This includes psychiatric professionals.
In Minnesota recently, a psychiatrist was sentenced to five years in prison for the sexual assault of a patient. While most people don’t like to think that a doctor, especially a psychiatrist, would treat a patient that way, it happens.
Unfortunately, the nature of psychiatric work doesn’t always allow malpractice to be easily identified. Here’s what patients need to know about psychiatric malpractice in New York including the signs that you may be a victim.
Psychiatric Malpractice in New York
Psychiatric malpractice is a form of medical malpractice. Filing a claim is done the same way as medical malpractice, just against a psychiatrist. This avenue is one way for patients and their families to feel heard as well as get the compensation they’re entitled to.
Common Psychiatric Malpractice Claims
- Failure to warn threats to others
- Improper diagnosis
- Failure to prevent suicide
- Improper treatment
Prescription Drug Treatments
A major claim under improper treatment (that sometimes stems from improper diagnosis) involves prescription drugs. Psychiatrists can also be held liable for any adverse reactions a patient has to prescribed medication.
Every doctor who treats a patient must take the risks associated with the medication into consideration when deciding if it will benefit the patient. An adverse reaction can put them at risk of medical malpractice.
Ethical Precedents for Psychiatrists
Psychiatrists must conduct an assessment at any time they feel someone is a risk to themselves and may commit suicide. Failing to do so can hold the doctor liable if the patient kills themselves or attempts to.
Courts have also upheld the idea that if a patient threatens another person, then the treating psychiatrist has a duty to warn the person who is at risk. Not doing so can put them at risk of being sued for negligence if the threat is followed through on.
New York Lawsuits for Medical Malpractice
It’s important to remember that psychiatrists are doctors who must uphold a standard of care. When it is not upheld, then they can be guilty of malpractice.
For psychiatrists, the mental conditions from which their patients suffer must be taken into account when they’re making decisions on their treatment.
Establishing Psychiatric Malpractice
So, how do you know if you can establish a medical malpractice case against your psychiatrist? Generally, four elements must be established. They are:
- The establishment of a doctor-patient relationship with the provider
- The psychiatrist was negligent, or they breached their duty of reasonable care
- The patient suffered a physical or mental injury due to negligence
- There is a causal link between the doctor’s negligence and the injury to the patient
Activities Leading to Psychiatric Malpractice Claims
Common ways psychiatrists commit malpractice include:
- Engaging in a relationship of a sexual nature with the patient
- Making an improper diagnosis
- Failing to conduct proper assessments
- Failing to prevent suicide
- Failing to diagnose a condition that is harmful
- Creating false memories in the patient
- Failing to warn others of threats made against them
- Sharing information on the patient without the patient’s express consent
- Threatening the patient
- Falsifying the records of the patients
This is not a complete list, but it gives you an idea of what sort of issues can result in a medical malpractice claim against a psychiatrist. Many cases of medical malpractice are never reported but if you suspect you’ve been a victim, then you should consider making it known.