Psychiatric malpractice refers to medical malpractice by mental health professionals — psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, therapists, counselors, psychiatric nurses, and other licensed mental health professionals. Like other types of malpractice, psychiatric malpractice means that healthcare professionals fail to meet the accepted standard of care in their profession. That failure is a breach of their duty to the patient, which is a type of negligence.
If you suspect that your provider has acted negligently and caused you harm as a result, reach out to a dedicated attorney at Berkowitz Hanna. A Bridgeport psychiatric malpractice lawyer can review your case and help you understand your options.
All healthcare professionals have a duty of care to their patients. However, psychiatric healthcare professionals often establish a deeper relationship with their patients. While a primary care provider may see a patient a few times a year, a mental health provider may see patients a few times a week. The closeness of the relationship creates more opportunities for malpractice. It can also facilitate scenarios where the malpractice goes beyond negligence to malice.
Improper diagnosis is a common type of medical malpractice and is a frequent problem in mental health care. Psychiatric treatment and diagnosis can be subjective. However, there are reliable and valid testing instruments that can help practitioners diagnose the problem. Misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary medication and other interventions, which can cause side effects and other damage. Furthermore, misdiagnosis means that a patient is not getting the treatment that they need.
Medication errors are also common in mental health treatment. Drugs to treat mental health conditions impact how people’s brains function. A medication that works perfectly for one person can have a negative impact on another. So, practitioners must carefully monitor patients and warn them about any potential interactions. If a medication is not working, they may need to slowly wean the patient off of the drug or supervise the transition. Failure to do so can lead to erratic behavior — including suicidal ideations or behavior — placing the patient and others at risk.
Abuse in psychiatric treatment is not unheard of. Some providers disguise abuse as treatment, using abusive language, physical violence, or harsh treatment against a patient. Others abuse their power, coercing patients to do things, often relating to sexual or romantic behavior. Abusive behavior is an ethical violation, as well as medical malpractice.
A Bridgeport attorney handling psychiatric malpractice claims may approach negligent or malicious malpractice in different ways. When a mental health professional is abusive, the attorney may recommend filing a complaint with their licensing board in addition to a malpractice suit. In addition, abuse allegations may support a claim for punitive damages.
Doctors sometimes commit psychiatric patients to mental healthcare facilities. These facilities differ from traditional healthcare facilities in several critical ways. First, they are often residential, providing care even when a patient does not need continuous physical medical care. That means that patients may be detained, but with a degree of physical autonomy that does not exist in other residential healthcare settings.
Doctors may involuntarily commit patients to these facilities. That means that patients may not be able to choose their location or check out freely. This can make it difficult to escape dangerous situations or make complaints.
Finally, in a mental healthcare facility, patients are exposed to other patients. Some of them may be violent or dangerous. Failure to protect patients from other patients — especially those with known histories of violence — is negligence.
If a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental healthcare provider’s negligence harmed you, you could be entitled to compensation for those injuries. The process of filing a claim can be intimidating, but our experienced attorneys are here to walk you through every step.
Schedule a free consultation with a Bridgeport psychiatric malpractice lawyer at Berkowitz Hanna to get started.