Medical Negligence And Mental Illness

Posted on

Medical negligence cannot just happen with physical ailments, but also with mental illness. However, negligence in these cases is often harder to prove. Mental illness diagnosis can be tricky because it's mostly based on observation and the patient's word. Many mental illnesses also share symptoms between them. Despite that, there are times when a psychiatrist can be found negligent. Here are some of the guidelines as to determining whether your doctor was medically negligent.

Characteristics of Medical Malpractice

In order to prove medical malpractice, your case must meet the following four guidelines.

There Was a Duty of Care

You were under the doctor's care and receiving medical advice and treatment in a professional way. It wouldn't be medical malpractice if you took the advice of someone on television or if you've overhead someone else's conversation.

The Doctor Was Negligent

The doctor didn't perform the duties reasonably expected of someone in his or her position. This includes failure to administer necessary tests and treatment.

The Negligence Caused an Injury

This negligence has to have contributed directly to your injury or suffering and would not have happened otherwise.

The Harm Was Significant

The injuries must be significant enough to cause measurable damages such as disability, suffering, and/or loss of income.

Ways a Psychiatrist Can Be Considered Negligent

Because of the nature of psychiatry, there ways your doctor can be liable compared to other types of medical negligence are fairly limited. The examples below are a sample of ways they can be negligent.


Examples of this would be having a sexual relationship with you or coercing you to engage in other activities outside what is considered the well out of the standard of care.

Failure to Warn Third Parties

Most states require psychiatrists to warn potential victims about dangerous patients. If you or a loved one was harmed by a known dangerous patient, then it could be medical negligence.

Prescription Issues

Prescribing the wrong medications or too much medication without due diligence may be considered malpractice if you were harmed.

Breach of Confidentiality

Except for very narrow legal reasons, such as the duty to warn, a psychiatrist must keep things confidential. If they breach that confidentiality for other reasons, and it causes you harm, then you may have a case for negligence.

There is a fairly tight statute of limitations on most mental medical negligence, so it's important to talk to an attorney if you feel that you've been wrong. Also, not all negative outcomes, such as misdiagnosis, is necessarily considered malpractice. Hiring an experienced medical negligence attorney can help you determine whether you have a case and how to go about getting compensated.