What To Do If You Think Your Psychiatrist Is Guilty Of Malpractice

by sammoser on February 5, 2013

All psychiatrists have a duty to care for their patients and protect them from harm. Psychiatric malpractice is very different from traditional medicine malpractices because it often deals with people who are mentally ill or unstable. If you suspect that your psychiatrist is guilty of malpractice, read the information below.

What Constitutes as Malpractice?

Many patients may have experiences with their psychiatrist that they deem unethical, unjust, wrong, and unfair. However, not all of these instances constitute as malpractice injury. Listed below are four requirements for a situation to constitute as malpractice.

1: Patient-Doctor Relationship

There must be a standing relationship between the doctor and patient in order to confirm the “reasonable care” duty.

2: Doctor Must Breach Reasonable Care

There must be a proven instance of negligence where the doctor breached his/her duty.

3: Harm

The patient must be injured or harmed in some way. This may include things like memory loss or broken bones, but it can also be extended to include emotional injuries.

4: Link Between Injury and Negligence

This is usually the most difficult element to establish, as it can be hard to prove that the injury was a direct result of the doctor breaching his/her duty. For example, with a case of suicide it may be hard to determine the reason or cause of the victim.

Common Types of Psychiatric Malpractice

Here are some of the most common cases of psychiatric malpractice:

  • Fraud, which includes lying to the patient in order to further his/her professional or personal cause.
  • False imprisonment, which includes holding a patient against their will.
  • Engaging or attempting in sexual acts with a patient
  • Violating a patient’s privacy rights.
  • Abandoning patient or displaying lack of regard for his/her feelings.
  • Improper psychotherapy application due to negligence.
  • Aware that the patient may harm himself/herself but doing nothing to prevent it.
  • Prescribing medicine carelessly.
  • Not obtaining prior consent from the patient when administering a therapeutic procedure, medication, or technique.
  • Failure to properly diagnose a patient’s condition or neglecting to see that their condition has worsened.
  • Failure to properly supervise a patient who has a known inclination hurt himself or others.
  • Failure to take proper care of a patient.


When a patient asks for care from a medical professional, they assume responsibility of the patient’s well-being. This also includes if the psychiatrist finds out the patient is contemplating suicide or has become a threat to the public. If the psychiatrist does not appropriately react, then they can be blamed for any violent or harmful acts carried out by the patient.

Consult a Lawyer

If your psychiatrist is guilty of one of the instances listed above, you will be able to file for malpractice. However, it is important to ask a lawyer to assess your individual case and advise you on what course of action you should take. Many lawyers will also have you meet their own psychiatrist specialist who can evaluate the damage caused and bring documented evidence to court.

Sam Moser is a journalist who studied law before deciding that covering legal matters was more rewarding than defending them.  Over the past 2 years, Sam has focused on covering stories of medical negligence for a Medical malpractice lawyer in Oakville, Ontario.

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