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Rob Levine Attorney At Law
Rob Levine Attorney At Law

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What is Mental Health Malpractice?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2017, an average of 46.6 million adults over the age of 18 experienced a mental health illness. Out of the 46.6 million, 42.6% received mental health services.

Those seeking mental health services are often in emotional distress and in need of help. Therefore, when a psychiatrist fails to meet the standard of care set in place for the patient’s well-being, there can be disastrous consequences. 

Examples of Mental Health Malpractice

Psychiatrists can perform malpractice and negligence in a variety of ways. The following are some examples that might qualify as mental health malpractice:

  • Failing to obtain informed consent
  • Failing to respect confidentiality, unless otherwise necessary
  • Failing to obtain and document the patient’s medical history and personal information
  • Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose
  • Failing to prescribe the necessary medication based on the patient’s condition
  • Prescribing the incorrect medication and/or dosage
  • Physical, verbal, or emotional abuse
  • Engaging in a sexual relationship with or sexually abusing the patient
  • Failing to report that the patient may have intentions of harming themselves or others to the appropriate third party as required by law
  • Unnecessary or improper use of restraints or isolation
  • Planting false memories in the patient’s mind
  • Abandonment

It is required by law for a psychiatrist to complete a suicide risk assessment and report to a third party if they have reason to believe that their patient has intentions of harming themselves or others. In cases dealing with suicide, if a psychiatrist fails to meet any of the following standards of care, they could be held liable for mental health malpractice and wrongful death:

  • Failing to notice signs that the patient may intend to harm themselves or others
  • Failing to prevent the patient from carrying out any intentions to harm themselves or others
  • Failing to complete a suicidal risk assessment
  • Failing to report that the patient may have intentions of harming themselves or others to the appropriate third party as required by law

Filing a Mental Health Malpractice Claim

To prove mental health malpractice, there must be proof of negligence and harm. In general, filing a mental health malpractice claim is similar to the procedure for filing a medical malpractice claim. To make a mental health malpractice claim, the claim must have the following characteristics:

  1. A doctor/patient relationship was established.
  2. The psychiatrist did not meet the standard of care.
  3. The patient experienced harm.
  4. There is a direct link between the psychiatrist’s negligence and the patient’s harm.

Mental health malpractice should be taken as seriously as any other type of malpractice, as it can lead to elongated periods of suffering for the patient and may result in long-term disabilities. Although it may be difficult to establish a mental health malpractice claim, it is well worth the while to demand justice.

Hiring an experienced attorney to help with your case can make all the difference. Contact the team at Rob Levine & Associates today to get started.