Most people do not think of psychiatry when they think of medical malpractice litigation in St. Louis. While medical malpractice cases involving surgical negligence or failure to diagnose cancer or some other condition are common, malpractice cases against psychiatrists are rather rare. This may be because patients who have been harmed by their psychiatrist do not want people to know that they are receiving psychiatric care, let alone that they were harmed by it.
However, many incidents may lead to psychiatric malpractice. Issues concerning prescription of powerful anti-depressants or other psychiatric medications include over dosage, failure to monitor the patient for side effects, and failure to monitor and prevent other conditions caused by the medication.
Another area to consider in psychiatric care is that a psychiatrist has a strict duty to maintain a patient’s confidences. Medical records and treatment are strictly confidential. Revealing those confidences to family, other medical care providers, employers or others may be malpractice.
The most serious cases of psychiatric malpractice often arise when the patient commits suicide. Patient suicides can occur for many, many reasons and many are not the result of malpractice. However, in some cases, a psychiatrist may be negligent for failure to prescribe medication, properly monitor the patient or for failure to hospitalize. In many cases the psychiatrist is required to seek out and review the records of other physicians to properly treat the patient.