“Psychiatric malpractice” refers to any situation where your psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist’s care falls below the standards the profession requires. Many instances of psych malpractice are similar to medical malpractice and involve misdiagnosis or medication errors. Others are unique to the risks that psychiatrists and therapists manage as part of their job and could end with serious tragedies such as a client committing or attempting suicide.
If you suspect that the psych care that you or a loved one received fell below the standard of care and could be considered malpractice, call The Queenan Law Firm today. Our Dallas, TX psychiatric malpractice attorneys represent victims of psych malpractice and fight to hold practitioners and institutions responsible to get victims the compensation they need to cover damages related to the malpractice. For a consultation, contact our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.
Types of Negligence in Mental Health Practices
Throughout the country, psychiatrists have a big responsibility: help those suffering from mental health conditions. Millions of Americans go to a psychiatrist every day looking for ways to cope with their conditions and get their life back together. As such, psychiatrists play a critical role in these people’s lives.
Dallas residents who visit a psychiatric office expect to be treated by a trained, experienced professional who understands what it takes to help them with their particular situation. However, not every healthcare provider has their priorities in order. Every year, thousands of people are mistreated by their psychiatrists, the very person who is supposed to aid them.
There are many different ways a negligent psychiatrist in Dallas can take advantage of their patient. Some of the things that may involve psychiatry malpractice include:
Prescription Medication Error
Mental health conditions are often treated by implementing the use of medication. Prescribing medication for mental health conditions requires special attention to detail and considerable care. An error in a patient’s medication can worsen their condition, which can lead to a number of dangerous outcomes. Every year, thousands of people die due to prescription medication errors in the U.S. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or a health issue due to getting the wrong prescription medication, you may be able to obtain compensation for your losses.
Many mental health patients are vulnerable and can be easily coerced by their psychiatrist. There may be situations where one of these healthcare providers take advantage of a vulnerable patient by convincing them to engage in sexual acts. Such conduct is strictly prohibited, and psychiatrists – and any other healthcare provider – should distance themselves from engaging in such actions. However, not all mental health professionals abide by the rules, often breaching their duty of care to their patients. Psychiatrists who engage in such conduct can hurt their patient for the rest of their life. While nothing can help erase the past, you can still recover compensation from the negligent, careless doctor who caused you harm.
One of a psychiatrist’s primary responsibilities is making an accurate diagnosis of a potential mental illness. An experienced, skilled mental health professional should be able to identify common signs of a mental health condition and adequately address it. Failure to diagnose a condition accurately can lead to the wrong type of treatment, including the wrong prescription medication. The physical and mental repercussion of a misdiagnosis can be challenging for a patient and their loved ones.
What Constitutes Psychiatric Malpractice in Dallas, TX?
What is and is not considered malpractice is typically based on the professional standards of the specific practitioner as well as objective standards of what is “reasonable” given the situation at hand. This means that what is malpractice for one practitioner might not be malpractice for another. For instance, psychiatrists are medical doctors who usually have the ability to prescribe medication, but other therapists do not have this ability. It would be normal for a psychiatrist to prescribe medication, but it could be illegal for other therapists to give drugs to their clients without a license.
This standard also means that what is dangerous or negligent in some circumstances might be okay in others. For instance, it is typically malpractice to disclose a patient’s information to a police officer. If the client was seeking therapy as part of their probation requirements and gave permission to disclose info to their probation officer, this is usually allowed and would not be malpractice.
Bad Outcomes vs. Malpractice
Just because there was a bad outcome or a client’s mental health declined while they were receiving treatment does not automatically mean that the therapist committed malpractice. In many cases, therapy or psychiatric treatment is difficult on the client, and increased stress and worsened symptoms are often an unfortunate part of the treatment process. However, a psych professional and a psychiatric malpractice attorney can help determine when the line is crossed into psychiatric malpractice.
“Standard of Care” in Psych Malpractice Cases
If a psych professional does something that goes against what other reasonable therapists with similar training and experience would have done, that could be considered malpractice and a violation of the “standard of care.” For example, most therapists and counselors are trained to assess patients and clients for suicide risk if they mention thoughts of suicide. Failing to screen a patient this way could result in suicide attempts that could have been prevented with proper screening, and the practitioner could be accused of malpractice for failing to assess the patient’s suicide risk. However, this does not mean that every case where a client commits suicide is the therapist’s fault, and it is important to investigate the specific facts of what happened and determine whether they violated the standard of care.
Other failures are more obvious, such as breaches of confidentiality, medication errors or mix-ups, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or unnecessary commitment to a mental health institution.
Suing a Therapist or Psychiatrist for Psych Malpractice in Dallas
In most cases, mental health institutions, clinics, and individual practitioners will carry malpractice insurance that protects them if they are accused of malpractice. This means that any cases filed against a mental health professional accusing them of psych malpractice will often be filed against the individual or institution, but their psychiatric malpractice insurance company will provide them with an experienced lawyer and pay for damages on their behalf.
This means that it is equally important to hire an experienced psychiatric malpractice victims lawyer who can stand up for you and fight for your rights. In many cases, insurance companies will seek to settle these cases cheaply instead of letting them go to court. However, this kind of settlement often prevents you from claiming damages for things like pain and suffering. These damages could be a large portion of the damages in a case where no physical harm is done, as most of the damage will involve mental and emotional effects instead of physical injuries and medical expenses.
Once you have established a breach of duty, you will need to demonstrate that you suffered harm due to your doctor’s breach of duty. Additionally, you will need to prove you suffered damages justifying the concession of a remedy in the form of financial compensation. If you prove all the elements required in a medical malpractice claim, you may obtain compensation for your losses. A skilled, experienced medical malpractice attorney in Dallas can help you determine the best course of action and guide you through the entire claim process.
Before filing a psychiatric malpractice case, you should always discuss your case with a lawyer. Our Dallas psychiatric malpractice attorneys can help you secure certifications from expert witnesses to help build your case, subpoena medical records to help build evidence of what your treatment was like, and help you process and understand what evidence and information might already be in your possession.
Damages for Psychiatric Malpractice Lawsuits in Dallas
Ultimately, many malpractice lawsuits do settle, and the insurance company pays a negotiated amount for the harm you suffered. It is vital to review the damages in your case with one of our Dallas psychiatric malpractice attorneys before accepting anything from the defendant. If you accept a payout from the insurance company, this could function as a settlement, barring you from claiming additional damages in court later if you are unsatisfied with the damages. If a settlement offer is unfair or too low, our attorneys can work to negotiate a better settlement or take the case to trial and seek damages from a jury award. We can help you understand what options you have and the pros and cons of each choice.
Call Our Dallas Psychiatric Malpractice Attorneys for a Legal Consultation
If you or a loved one was affected by negligent counseling, therapy, or psychiatric care, contact The Queenan Law Firm today. Our Dallas, TX psychiatric malpractice attorneys work to file lawsuits against individual therapists and institutions to help our clients get compensation for their additional medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to psychiatric malpractice. For your consultation, call our Dallas personal injury lawyer today at (817) 476-1797.