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Is There Such a Thing as Psychiatric Medical Malpractice?


Many individuals who seek psychiatric help from Florida health care providers do so because they’re vulnerable and emotionally distraught. They trust physicians to provide support through various types of treatment, which may include therapy, talking out their problems, and/or medications to alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions. In some situations, the patient relies on a psychiatrist or psychologist to assist with decisions regarding difficult life choices, which means the practitioner is playing a critical role in the healing process.

As such, there can be serious harm for patients when a mental health professional doesn’t provide treatment in conformance with proper standards of care. If this describes your circumstances or you have concerns, you should discuss them with a Florida medical malpractice lawyer. You might also benefit from reviewing some background information about your rights. 

Common Psychiatric Medical Malpractice Scenarios: Florida’s statute on medical malpractice allows injured patients to bring a malpractice claim when the actions of a health care provider constitute a breach of the prevailing professional standards of care. The law applies to all “health care providers,” a definition which includes practitioners in the areas of psychiatry and psychology. However, there are very specific circumstances that could give rise to a claim in these practice specialties. Examples of the most common grounds include:

  • Medication Mistakes. The drugs used to treat many mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and schizophrenia, can have extremely serious, mind-altering side effects. Many lead to an increased risk of developing suicidal tendencies. Physicians and nurses need to be very careful in writing and administering prescriptions, since the wrong medication or dosage can lead to tragic consequences, including suicide.
  • Diagnosis Errors: A psychiatrist or psychologist might provide an incorrect diagnosis or fail to detect a mental illness at all. Without proper treatment, the patient could cause harm to himself or herself – or other people.
  • Violation of Confidentiality: Mental health specialists are required by law to keep patient information private, unless they’re directed by a court in rare situations. When they disclose details about a patient’s condition without consent, there may be a situation of malpractice.

Challenges in Proving Malpractice by a Psychiatrist or Psychologist: Any claim for medical malpractice comes with legal hurdles, but there are exceptional difficulties in cases involving a mental health professional. Some services a practitioner provides are intangible, such as talk therapy: It can be hard to prove that a conversation was the direct cause of harm to the patient. In addition, because there are few physical manifestations of a mental disease, there can be hurdles in establishing a mistake in diagnosis.  However, discussions with patients often trigger certain professional obligations by the practitioner, and failure to fulfill their duties within the standard of care in the community can lead to legal liability.

A Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help You Overcome Legal Hurdles 

At Freidin Brown, P.A., our lawyers have experience handling all types of cases involving medical errors, including those based upon mistreatment in the context of psychiatric care. There can be challenges in these sorts of cases, but we know the details and evidence necessary to support your claim for compensation. To learn more about your rights, please contact our Miami medical malpractice lawyers today. We can provide additional information after conducting a free and confidential consultation.


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