The relationship between a patient and a psychiatrist should be stable and trustworthy. Unfortunately, some psychiatrists will use their relationship with a patient for their personal benefit, or they may simply not care about the mental state of their patient. When this happens, a patient could seriously injure themselves or another person. If you or a family member was injured due psychiatric negligence, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia psychiatric malpractice attorney today.
The Reiff Law Firm is here to help you pursue a claim against a negligent psychiatrist that failed to protect the interests of their patient. Our firm has litigated a variety of malpractice claims, and we will use this knowledge and our decades of experience to represent you. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000, or contact us online.
5 Common Causes of Psychiatric Malpractice in Philadelphia, PA
When seeking psychiatric therapy, it is important to select a psychiatrist that will offer you the mental help you need to overcome the condition that is affecting your life. However, some psychiatrists may only offer a patient treatment that could endanger their lives or the lives of others.
The following is a list of common causes of psychiatric malpractice.
Inadequate Suicide Risk Assessment
Some patients may express urges to commit suicide during a session with their psychiatrist. When this occurs, a psychiatrist should perform a suicide risk assessment on the patient. This assessment should inquire about the following information:
- Patient medical history
- Medications prescribed to the patient
- The living and employment situation of the patient
- Other factors that could influence their decision to commit suicide like age and sexual orientation
Additionally, a psychiatrist should prepare a suicide risk assessment every time a patient expresses suicidal tendencies. Failure to document each episode can make it difficult for a psychiatrist to treat their patient.
If a psychiatrist determines that their patient will likely enact their plans to commit suicide, they are obligated to take steps to prevent the suicide. For example, notifying family members or law enforcement could be a satisfactory response to legitimate thoughts of suicide. If a psychiatrist fails to take any steps to prevent a suicide attempt, they could be held liable for the patient’s death.
Patients visit a psychiatrist to deal with a number of medical conditions. Once a psychiatrist has performed a thorough assessment of a patient, they should be able to diagnose the patient’s condition and suggest a treatment plan.
Note, however, that if a psychiatrist misdiagnoses a patient’s condition, they could be subject to civil liability. For example, misdiagnosing a patient with depression and prescribing medication they do not need can be extremely dangerous for a patient.
Psychiatrists should also refrain from issuing prescriptions to patients who only appear to be seeking drugs instead of treatment. Supporting a patient’s drug habit could also result in malpractice.
Abuse of Relationship
A psychiatrist is supposed to help a patient correct the medical conditions they suffer from. Instead, some psychiatrists may view their confidential relationship with a patient as an opportunity to help themselves. For example, if a psychiatrist pursues a sexual relationship with a patient that is in a weakened mental state, this can be an abuse of power.
Pushing the boundaries of a professional relationship with a patient for sexual, monetary, or other reasons could open a psychiatrist up to civil and criminal liability.
Failure to Warn
As mentioned, a psychiatrist is expected to take action when a patient threatens to hurt themselves or commit suicide. A psychiatrist also has this duty when a patient communicates their intent to hurt or kill another person. Specifically, if a psychiatrist believes their patient poses a credible threat to another person, they can break their confidential relationship with a patient to warn the other party of the threat.
There are some concerns about what constitutes a credible threat and whether a psychiatrist is only obligated to inform the party at risk. If a psychiatrist makes the wrong decision, they could be held liable for an injury to a third party.
Breach of Confidentiality
The confidential relationship between a psychiatrist and patient is to protect the patient’s identity and information they shared with a therapist. If a psychiatrist uses the information from a patient as gossip material or to harm the patient, this is a breach of confidentiality that is actionable.
Contact Our Experienced Philadelphia Psychiatric Malpractice Lawyers Today
If you or a family member was injured due to psychiatric malpractice, contact an experienced Philadelphia psychiatric malpractice lawyer today. The personal injury lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm recognizes that the relationship between a psychiatrist and a patient should not result in an injury, and we are here to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000.