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Can a Mental Health Professional Commit Medical Malpractice?

We've talked a good deal here about medical malpractice lawsuits for things like misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, treatment that harmed a patient, birth injuries and any number of mistakes that physicians and other health care professionals can make that injure or worsen the condition of patients. However, what about psychiatrists? Can they be held responsible for malpractice?

Psychiatrists, just as with other type of physician, are responsible for providing a certain standard of care to their patients. When they fail to provide that, they can be held liable for medical malpractice. Examples of potential cases include:

  • Failing to report that a patient is a threat
  • Failing to diagnose a patient's mental illness
  • Lack of treatment or incorrect treatment for a mental illness

There is no doubt that proving that a mental health professional did not provide the recognized standard of care or that he or she was negligent can be more challenging that proving medical malpractice by a physician who treats your body rather than your mind. The plaintiff needs to show that because the psychiatrist breached his or her duty of care, the patient suffered either psychological or physical damage.

If the damage that a person suffered was psychological, it can be particularly difficult to prove that they are owed damages and to hold the psychiatrist liable for medical malpractice. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try. A Miami personal injury lawyer experienced in handling medical malpractice cases can provide advice on whether you have a case and, if so, help you to present that case in court.

Source: FindLaw, "When Can You Sue a Psychiatrist for Malpractice?," Christopher Coble, Esq., accessed Dec. 04, 2015

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