What should I do if I think my psychiatrist commits malpractice?

Seeking psychiatric help is not easy for most people, but in most cases it can be a positive step to obtaining help with mental or emotional problems. Many people have very positive interactions with psychiatrists and get the help they need. However, in some cases psychiatrists can prey on their patients, usually by abusing or neglecting them.

Psychiatric malpractice is a form of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other health care provider provides improper or negligent treatment to a patient. A large percentage of psychiatric malpractice often goes unreported.  Victims of a negligent or abusive psychiatrist often don’t come forward, for fear of embarrassment or because they believe they won’t be believed. When they do come forward, they are frequently dismissed because of their mental issues, sometimes even by friends and family members.

Psychiatric malpractice can occur in several ways. First, there is intentional conduct that is wrong by a psychiatrist. This could be a psychiatrist sharing confidential information about a patient with another person. This could also include more serious violations, such as physical or sexual abuse of a patient. The other way psychiatric malpractice could occur is through negligent conduct. This could include prescribing the wrong drug or the wrong dosage, failing to diagnose a patient’s serious condition, or diagnosing a patient incorrectly.

Patients who put their faith in psychiatrists usually have fears about the psychiatrist’s treatment and whether they will be stigmatized as a result of the treatment. Patients shouldn’t have to carry the additional burden of dealing with a psychiatrist’s malpractice.