A Psychiatric care center in Louisville was reported a few years ago to have allowed a teenager to head-bang herself more than 100 times in a row on a hard-surfaced floor while staff looked on and did nothing. The young girl then went a full day before a staff member noticed her badly bruised head while she was in the shower and sought medical attention for her. The Attorney General of the state of Kentucky soon got involved, and now the hospital has adjusted its policies to require a doctor (besides a psychiatrist) to always be present for patients as well as gotten a new CEO.
Basic Definition of Psychiatric Malpractice
Any illegal or less than ethical actions taken by any doctor, including a psychiatrist, can constitute medical malpractice. If a patient-doctor relationship exists, then the doctor must act in a manner that any physician in a similar situation would be expected to act. Anything less can be considered negligence or gross misconduct in a court of law if the wrongful action can be proven to have resulted in or contributed to actual harm, physical or psychological, done to the patient.
Possible Psychiatric Malpractice Scenarios
While the list of psychiatric malpractice incidents is multi-faceted and virtually endless, there are some major common categories we can briefly look at. A suicide that ensues after a patient is prematurely released could be considered to result partly from malpractice if the patient was not in the legal position of making his or her own decision about the release or if the family was not consulted. Violations of the psychiatric hospital‘s standards by a staff member can lead to termination and/or suit. Mistakes made due to unfamiliarity with the type of condition the patient suffered from, lack of offering medication consent forms, mis-prescribed medications, failure to react to visible severe side effects of prescribed medications, forcefully holding a patient in custody for inadequate reasons, or psychological manipulation and power play tactics by the psychiatrist are all causes for a lawsuit. One common nervous system disorder that frequently stems from over-using prescribed psychiatric drugs is Tardive Dyskinesia, a condition that involves uncontrollable muscle spasms. This disease is often the target of psychiatric malpractice lawsuits. Another common type of incident is one in which sexual abuse takes place against a patient by a psychiatrist who uses his or her job as a guise for the abuse.
Legal Recourse is Available for Victims
Certain practices, like keeping good notes about time spent at psychiatric hospitals and retaining records and receipts for all drugs taken along with the dosages, will help much in a psychiatric suit. But even without these evidences, it may be possible to successfully pursue a malpractice case for victims, and anyone who has suffered at the hands of negligent or actively abusive psychiatrists should not hesitate to take immediate action. Experienced psychiatric malpractice attorneys are available to help guide you through the legal process and drastically increase your chances of victory in court. Short of or in conjunction with a lawsuit, the victim also has recourse to file ethics violation charges that could cancel a psychiatrists license and complain to their employer of violations of company policy to have the offending psychiatrist fired. It is unfortunate that such severe actions may be necessary to bring justice, receive fair compensation, and prevent others from falling victim to the same set events, but dedicated lawyers stand ready to fight for you to do what needs to be done to uphold the law and protect patients.