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Psychiatrists can be sued for medical malpractice

Filing a medical malpractice suit against a psychiatrist or other mental health professional can be more complicated than taking legal action against other types of doctors. The injury is likely not visible or measurable, as it would be if a surgical procedure was done incorrectly or a medical condition was misdiagnosed.

However, people can and do file successful malpractice suits against psychiatric professionals. There are a number of bases for such lawsuits by patients and surviving family members. These include:

  • Failing to assess a patient's risk for suicide or prevent suicide
  • Having sex with a patient
  • Failing to warn others of a threat by a patient
  • Creating false memories in a patient
  • Providing improper treatment or medications
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition
  • Sharing patients' information without their consent
  • Not getting informed consent for psychotropic drug prescriptions

Medical malpractice by any type of doctor can involve emotional harm. This is often the case in malpractice suits against psychiatrists.

As in any malpractice case, a victim needs to show a link between the psychiatrist's actions and the harm that was suffered. Psychiatrists have a duty to provide reasonable care. Too often, unless something like sexual abuse occurs, patients don't report suspected malpractice. They may just think that their situation has worsened due to some fault of their own or that their doctor simply isn't particularly good.

If you believe that you or a loved one may have been the victim of psychiatric malpractice, it's wise to seek the guidance of an experienced Maryland malpractice attorney to find out what your legal options are.

Source: Psychology Today, "When to Sue Your Psychiatrist for Malpractice," Ruth Lee Johnson, J.D., accessed Sep. 19, 2017

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