Although more complicated than the injuries associated with medical malpractice, mental health malpractice is a quickly growing field of malpractice law. Mental health practice generally occurs when a mental health practitioner disregards or breaches the proper standard of care that they are supposed to render for their clients. This can take many forms and involve many different types of conduct.
The majority of mental malpractice cases do not stem from unforeseeable problems, but rather from situations that could have been avoided if only they were recognized and treated properly by a mental health provider.
The following are the most commonly associated claims in successful mental health malpractice cases:
Keep in mind that these claims are often applied to different types of mental health professionals. For example, a therapist with a PhD is not able to prescribe medication, instead a patient must go to a psychiatrist who is an MD.
If the claim is against a physician, then it is likely that the actions of the psychiatrist will be heavily scrutinized as medical professionals are held to a higher standard of care than a non-medical professional.
Like other forms of malpractice, mental health malpractice is usually classified as a type of negligence. In order to prove mental health malpractice using negligence principles, certain elements must be proven in court to hold the practitioner liable. These elements are:
If the court is able to prove these elements, the professional will likely be found liable for mental health malpractice. Failure to prove any of the elements will mean that the professional is not liable for malpractice.
The same defenses for a medical malpractice case often work for mental health malpractice as well. The most common defenses are:
In some cases, the patient is dangerous to others. Mental health providers may feel they are in a difficult position because the provider has a duty to keep the patient’s information confidential.
However, most states place a duty to warn victims on mental health providers. The duty to warn is the provider’s duty to provide warnings if their patient is seeking to harm another person. If a patient harms or kills a victim, the provider may sometimes be liable. The doctor-patient privilege would not be a defense if the mental health provider had a duty to warn or protect the victim.
Most states have a duty to warn. However, the following states do NOT place a duty to warn on mental health providers:
If you have suffered from injuries as a result of mental health visits, or have been accused of mental health malpractice, the advice and counsel of a personal injury attorney can be extremely helpful. In order to determine the strength of the claim, and the proper legal recourse, the right personal injury attorney can make this process a successful one.
Last Modified: 08-28-2018 09:43 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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