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Can I sue my psychiatrist for medical malpractice?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Imagine your loved one has a surgery scheduled to have his or her gallbladder removed. On the day of the surgery, something goes awry during the procedure, and your loved one passes away. In this kind of situation, a case for medical malpractice might be obvious. After all, wrongful death is the leading cause of medical malpractice cases. 

Now, imagine your loved one regularly sees a psychiatrist for his or her depression. A few months down the road, your loved one commits suicide. Is the case for medical malpractice as clear as the gallbladder surgery gone wrong? 

Do psychiatrists get sued? 

You may not typically think of mental health services when you think of medical malpractice, but if you find yourself in a difficult or uncomfortable situation with your psychiatrist or the psychiatrist of a loved one, you might find yourself wondering: Can I sue a psychiatrist for medical malpractice? 

Depending on the circumstances, the answer might be yes. In fact, as many as 41% of U.S. psychiatrists in the U.S. get sued. Given the complex nature of psychological relationships, however, determining patient injury may not be as clear as a botched operation. 

How do psychiatrists commit medical malpractice? 

As with all doctors, information shared between psychiatrists and patients is confidential and sometimes life-saving. The handling of that information is important. Among other things, people sue psychiatrists for failing to correctly respond to suicide threats, illegally sharing patient records, and withholding or falsifying of information. 

While it is substantial, the mishandling of information is not the only form of psychiatrist malpractice. To hold a psychiatrist liable for medical malpractice, four conditions must exist: 

  1. Relationship – between patient and doctor 
  2. Negligence – in doctor’s duty to care for patient 
  3. Injury – to patient 
  4. Causal link – between negligence and injury 

Sometimes, injury is obvious, and other times, it is not. Psychiatrists also commit malpractice by engaging in sexual relations with patients and making threats. 

Medical malpractice can occur in many forms across many different realms of medicine. Make sure all medical professionals treat you fairly. 

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