Our Blogs

Can Suicide Be Considered an Issue of Medical Malpractice?

Written by Berkowitz

Medical ConsultationPsychologists and psychiatrists have a difficult job. They must not only assess the mental and emotional issues of their patients (something not easily seen on a diagnostic test), but also consider the potential legal liability of each patient whom they take on. Because patient suicide is a real risk for practicing physicians, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals often worry about malpractice claims. A patient who commits suicide is not automatically a case for malpractice, though. Instead, it comes down to proving if the mental health professional was negligent or caused the suicide itself.



Proving a Psychologist or Psychiatrists Negligence

There are a number of ways in which a physician can contribute to a patient’s suicide. In order to have a valid wrongful death or malpractice claim against that physician, you would need to prove that:

  1. The physician failed to properly recognize the signs of the patient’s suicidal tendencies. For example, the patient has a history of suicide attempts, but the physician ignored that medical history.
  2. The physician failed to provide proper care once the risk for suicide was present. This could include failing to put a patient on a psychiatric hold, treating the patient for suicidal thoughts, etc.
  3. Prescribing medications with a known side effect of increasing the risk for suicide – some antidepressants have been shown to cause suicidal thoughts in patients.
  4. Not performing an adequate suicide watch at a treating clinic or facility – such as not medicating the patient, or giving the patient access to harmful objects – which were then used in the suicide.

If a medication contributed to your loved one’s suicide, then you may have grounds to file a claim against not only the provider who prescribed it, but the manufacturer of the medication as well. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has strict rules for manufacturers of psychiatric drugs – and they are required to provide a black box warning on all medications that have an increase in suicidal tendencies.

How an Attorney Can Help?

If you have lost a loved one due to a suicide and you feel that the suicide was the result of medical negligence, you will need to speak with a medical malpractice attorney. An attorney who is well-versed in Connecticut’s wrongful death and malpractice statutes can be a valuable asset in proving your claim. An attorney can help you receive compensation for:

  • Funeral or burial costs
  • Loss of companionship
  • Punitive damages
  • Mental and emotional anguish
  • Loss of current financial support provided by your lost loved one

Even if a loved one has attempted suicide and failed, the treating physician could be considered liable for the injuries (including additional medical treatment costs).
You must first put your case in the hands of a qualified attorney by working with the team at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC. Our attorneys are highly skilled in the field of medical malpractice and we can help you file and win your claim against the negligent physician. To get started, contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation.