When Seattle residents think of medical malpractice, their first thought may be of a patient who suffers a worsened condition because of a botched operation or a doctor’s misdiagnosis of a physical ailment.
However, medical practice and even outright professional abuse happen too frequently in the world of mental health as well.
For example, like all other doctors, psychiatrists must adhere to a professional standard of care when providing their services to patients. If they fail to do so, and if a patient—or even a third party in some cases— suffers an injury as a result, then the victim can obtain compensation from the doctor on account of the doctor’s negligence.
In the world of psychiatry, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose are common errors that can be the grounds for a lawsuit. Mis-prescribing and other medication errors can also be ground for a medical malpractice claim.
However, there are other grounds for malpractice causes of action which are relatively unique to the world of mental health.
For instance, psychiatrists have been held liable for failure to assess a patient’s risk for suicide or otherwise failing to prevent patients from harming themselves. They have also been successfully sued for creating in a patient a false memory of events that never in fact occurred.
Not surprisingly, confidentiality issues have also been at the forefront of malpractice in a mental health setting. Doctors and therapist have been sued for disclosing patients’ private information, but they have also, on the other hand, been sued for not warning people of imminent harm when a patient has made a specific threat.