Many people struggle with mental health issues that lead to self-harm. Fortunately, psychiatrists can often offer treatment that prevents people from fatally injuring themselves. If a patient that sought mental health care subsequently takes their own life, their treating provider may be held accountable. In a recent New York opinion, a court discussed what a plaintiff must prove to establish liability for the actions of a psychiatric patient in a matter in which the plaintiff was ultimately denied recovery. If you suffered losses due to a negligent psychiatrist, it is smart to speak to a Rochester medical malpractice attorney about your rights.
The Factual Background
It is reported that the decedent visited the defendant’s hospital in November 2015 with scratches on his arms. The decedent advised the treating physicians that he tried to end his life via suicide. He was observed for 20 hours and then released. He died by suicide the following morning. The decedent’s estate then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. Following the completion of discovery, the defendant moved to dismiss the case via summary judgment. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
Establishing a Psychiatrist’s Liability for the Actions of a Patient
On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it explained that in order to hold a doctor or their employer accountable for harm resulting from the behavior of a psychiatric patient who was released, when their release is a matter of professional judgment, the plaintiff must prove that the doctor’s decision to release the patient was something less than a professional medical decision that was founded upon a thorough examination of the patient. Continue reading