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Holding Psychiatrists Accountable for Errors


As mental health issues come more into our nation’s forefront, we are more aware than ever of the widespread nature of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions that can lead to suicide. Many of us have known someone who was admitted to a hospital or other medical care facility in order to protect them and treat them in a safe environment. Unfortunately, deaths in psychiatric care or due to premature release from psychiatric care are far too common.

When someone is in the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist, the medical professional is responsible for taking appropriate measures to monitor the patient’s safety. Although “appropriate measures” can vary from one situation to the next, it is clear when those measures have not been taken. With competent care and appropriate psychological treatment, all mental health facilities should be able to keep their patients alive and well.

How Mental Health Facilities Fail Those Who Need Them Most

Families believe their suicidal loved ones are safe once they are seen at a hospital emergency room, psychiatric facility, mental health center, or mental health professional’s private practice. However, many licensed mental health professionals are poorly trained – if trained at all – in the detection, assessment, protection and treatment of suicidal people. Although you might expect your loved ones to receive proper care in a psychiatric facility, they might actually be in harm’s way due to poor training of facility staff.

A spouse, parent, child, sibling, or a close friend should take steps to help their loved one. Family members may have found a hospital or a medical professional they thought would help. Tragically, people sometimes take their own lives while under the care of professionals who failed to meet applicable standards of care.

Unfortunately, in most situations, by the time psychiatric negligence is apparent, it is too late to change the situation. If your loved one committed suicide while under the care of a psychologist or psychiatrist, it is important to hold the negligent party responsible.

At the Law Offices of Glenn W. Cunningham, we understand the emotional nature of situations like this, and we can help you receive the compensation you need. We work with clients in San Antonio and throughout Texas to establish psychiatrist liability and work to change the care in-patients receive.

Examples of Psychiatric Malpractice:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to take an independent and complete psychiatric and medical history of the patient
  • Failure to thoroughly review what can be voluminous medical and psychiatric records
  • Negligent psychiatric hospital care
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Failure to obtain informed consent
  • Failing to notice signs the patient may be a risk to themselves or others
  • Failing to monitor a suicidal patient
  • Failure to protect patients from harming themselves
  • Failure to refer to an appropriate specialist
  • Failure to prescribe the proper medication

Contact an Experienced Texas Psychiatric Malpractice Attorney

When a person is undergoing in-patient care at a psychiatric ward, numerous safeguards are put in place to ensure his or her well-being. Unfortunately, many of the safeguards designed to protect people can be ignored, allowing mentally ill people to have a good understanding of when they can get away with things.

Most hospitals check on psychiatric patients every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night. However, that is a negligent standard, because it only takes six minutes to commit suicide. Although most facilities do not have clocks, patients learn the rhythm of the doctors and nursing home staff, and quickly realize that, after a health care provider leaves the room, they will have an uninterrupted opportunity of 15-30 minutes to engage in self-harm.

If your loved one committed suicide because they were not monitored carefully, or if a clinician failed to diagnose the likelihood of suicidal actions as a result of an antidepressant, we can help you hold them accountable for their actions. We fight aggressively to help our clients receive the compensation they need. Contact us online or call 210-787-3312 to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer.