Victims of psychiatric malpractice face a difficult battle. Mental health care patients are vulnerable to negligence and wrongdoing by the very nature of their condition. When the do speak up about mistreatment, their complaints are often dismissed or ignored.
Patients with a history of emotional instability, impaired judgment, or erratic behavior are easily taken advantage of by the mental health system. Due to the stigma of mental illness, those capable of speaking up for themselves often lack the courage, feeling that no one will believe their claims.
Psychiatric malpractice is a very real form of medical malpractice, which can have devastating mental, emotional, and physical consequences. Psychiatric malpractice can be deadly. It should never be ignored.
Mental health care patients have the legal right to be informed of the risks and benefits of undergoing or choosing not to undergo a treatment. Just like any other type of patient, they have the right to refuse!
Unfortunately, many patients, their loved ones, and the general public are under the impression that the right of informed consent does not apply to mental health patients.
What constitutes psychiatric malpractice?
Mental health care providers have a duty to treat their patients with dignity, provide adequate care, and prevent harm. Unsuccessful does not in and of itself constitute malpractice. Psychiatric malpractice includes:
· Failure to diagnose
· Failure to treat
· Failure to recognize worsening of condition
· Negligent psychotherapy
· Negligent or harmful use of medications
· Failure to monitor medications
· Lack of informed consent for medications, therapeutic technique, or procedure
· Emotional manipulation
· Breach of confidentiality
· False imprisonment (including inappropriate restraint)
· Physical abuse
· Sexual Misconduct
· Failure to prevent harm to self or others
· Inadequate supervision
· Wrongful death
Mental health care providers have a duty to prescribe appropriate medications, in appropriate doses. The medications prescribed for psychological disorders can be dangerous, causing severe physical and emotional side effects. Many of these drugs are even more dangerous if a patient suddenly stops taking them. Doctors have a duty to inform patients of the side effects of the drugs that they are prescribed and the dangers of ceasing medication.
In some cases doctors have been misinformed by drug companies, about the medications they are prescribing. Even worse, they may not have been told about dangerous side effects that were known to the drug makers, such as suicidal behavior. Drug manufacturers will often try to claim that the deadly results were caused by the mental illness rather than the medication.
When patients are harmed by defective medications the responsibility normally falls on the drug makers, rather than the doctor who prescribed the drug. Then it becomes a product liability suit instead of a medical malpractice suit.
You do not need to know which kind of lawsuit you have in order to take action. If you feel that you or a loved one has been the victim of psychiatric malpractice, you should talk to an attorney who has experience with these kinds of cases. Your attorney will investigate, determine what type of case you have, and advise you on the best course of action.