We might wish to believe that malpractice does not take place in the psychiatric community, but it does. Malpractice is an ugly word that stirs dark images within the world of psychiatric treatment. Most of us would prefer to turn our backs to the reality and place our suspicions on the patient, who is after all, not mentally stable.
A patient, certainly, will find it intimidating to go against a psychiatrist who has (perceived) power over the his life. The patient’s is already vulnerable because of his illness. How reliable of a witness could he be? It’s a very difficult and fragile situation, to attempt to call a psychiatrist to accountability.
What can you do if you think your psychiatrist is guilty of malpractice? You can hire an attorney who specializes in malpractice and file a lawsuit, or you can file complaints that will call the psychiatrist to accountability.
If you elect to file a malpractice lawsuit, this legal structure is required:
1. There must be a doctor-patient relationship
2. The psychiatrist has to breach the duty of reasonable care -such as negligence
3. Harm must have occurred such as physical, emotional injury
4. A causal link must be demonstrated between negligence and injury very difficult to prove
Experts say that less money is awarded in psychiatric malpractice suits and this is probably because lawsuits take years to go to trial. It is a draining and sometimes traumatic experience, and, therefore, more cases are settled out of court. If you elect to file a lawsuit, its best to consult with an attorney who specializes in psychiatric malpractice suits.
If you don’t wish to file a lawsuit, you have options to file other complaints. The Citizens Commission of Human Rights can help with advice and down loadable forms.
Complaints you can file:
1. A human rights complaint
2. Complaint with the psychiatrist’s employer (hospital, agency or state)
3. Ethics charge: the psychiatrist’s license can be taken away by a board of peers
4. Find others who have similar complaints against the psychiatrist and decide a course of legal action together.
Whether you file a lawsuit or file complaints, accurate notes and details are very important. Document every detail that you recall about the incident, including names, dates and details of the incidence.
Malpractice can take place anywhere in the setting of psychiatric treatment. A large number of psychiatric complaints come from hospitals involving Medicaid fraud, over billing, involuntary commitment, racism and sexual assault.
In the past year, a man was awarded 1.1 million dollars because he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. Other psychiatrists have been convicted of fraud, bribes and assault.
As intimidating and frightening as it might seem, reporting a psychiatrist for malpractice and/or ethics is a necessary action if we wish to build a safer mental health community.
The key is to enlist as much help as you can, and know that you are doing the right thing by taking action against malpractice.