When you think about medical malpractice, you probably think of a surgery gone wrong or a harried emergency room doctor missing the all-too-obvious signs that someone is having a heart attack until it’s too late. But any medical professional can be guilty of malpractice – and that includes psychiatrists.
Since psychiatry is a different kind of medicine, however, malpractice can also look a bit different. What kinds of negligent or harmful acts can be considered psychiatric malpractice? Consider these:
- Prescribing psychotropic medication to a patient without informing them or their parent (if the patient is a minor) of the potential side-effects and risks
- Failing to monitor the patient’s response to medication over time to see if it is helping or causing more problems
- Ignoring or dismissing the suicidal threats of a patient and not performing a proper suicide risk assessment when there are concerns
- Making a wrong diagnosis — leading to the wrong treatment and a worsening of the patient’s condition or failing to make a diagnosis entirely
- Failing to follow the laws and procedures that require warnings to third parties that a patient is threatening their safety
- Threatening the patient, falsifying their records or engaging in an illicit physical or financial relationship with the patient
- Creating false memories of traumatic events in a susceptible patient
- Not going through the proper procedures to rule out physical conditions that may be causing the patient’s symptoms
As in any profession, some doctors have more skill than others — and some are just not very good at their jobs. However, when a psychiatrist fails to exercise reasonable care, patients can suffer serious harm as a result. If it’s happened to you or your loved one, it may be time to discuss the issue with an experienced malpractice attorney.