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Psychiatric Malpractice

Psychiatric Malpractice

Emotional and mental illnesses carry their own unique type of pain, unlike any other malady that can affect the body. Psychiatric illness can touch the lives of everyone involved with the patient. From parents and spouses to friends and coworkers, mental disorders affect everyone involved. Patients of psychiatric illness depend upon their psychiatrists and mental health providers to help them through their illness with proper treatment and skill. When they fail to do this, negligence may have occurred and the patient is further harmed.

What Constitutes Psychiatric Malpractice?

Psychiatric malpractice is no different from regular medical malpractice. Psychiatrists are held to the same code of ethics that all medical doctors are. They are expected to provide adequate care to their patients. When there is a lapse inadequate care, negligence may have occurred. Not all instances when a patient feels wronged can be designated as psychiatric abuse, however. In order to be classified as malpractice, certain factors must be present.

  • There must be a documentable doctor/patient relationship. This establishes that the psychiatrist owed the patient a duty of reasonable care.
  • Negligence must occur. The psychiatrist must have breached the duty of reasonable care to the patient.
  • Occurrence of harm must be present. The negligence of the psychiatrist must have cause some kind of harm to the patient. It may be emotional harm or physical harm.
  • Proximate Cause must be present. Proximate cause is a legal term referring to a link between the injury or harm and the negligence.
Types of Psychiatric Malpractice

Often the most difficult part of psychiatric malpractice cases is proving the proximate cause. When a breach of the duty of responsible care occurs, it isn’t always caught immediately. As a matter of fact, it usually isn’t caught right away. More often than not, other intervening circumstances happen that can cloud the link between the negligence and the corresponding injury. Suicide cases in particular are extremely hard to prove a proximate cause.

Feeling upset or slighted is not enough of accuse a psychiatrist of malpractice. Even circumstance that seem blatantly unfair aren’t always prosecutable. Being put in restraints against your will or being committed when you did not feel it was needed may not be a form of malpractice. Most cases depend on the very particular circumstances of the case. Sexual contact between a patient and doctor is one of the few instances that are wrong and considered malpractice regardless of the circumstances. Other instances of psychiatric malpractice could be:

  • Prescription error - prescribing the wrong medicine for the problem can cause immeasurable harm and even death to the patient.
  • Failure to diagnose – a psychiatrist may fail to recognize the symptoms of a problem or fail to notice a dangerous situation in time.
  • Threatening or abusing control – a psychiatrist may threaten a patient with hospitalization if they do not comply with their orders.
  • Sharing medical knowledge – it is illegal and highly unethical for a psychiatrist to share a patient’s medical records with anyone else without express permission from the patient.
  • Sexual conduct – sexual conduct of any kind is considered malpractice.
If you or a loved one have been injured by Psychiatric Malpractice, you will need a lawyer with experience. Call Moseley Collins at (916) 444-4444 for a free consultation.

Moseley Collins is a personal injury attorney serving those badly hurt throughout California. There is absolutely NO FEE to discuss your case and there is absolutely no fee unless we win and get you the money you are entitled to. We are on your side and know what to do to get you compensation and justice.


Moseley Collins
980 9th St, 16th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 444-4444