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Articles Posted in Psychiatric Malpractice

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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

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When people think of a medical malpractice claim, they often imagine a botched surgery or misdiagnosis. Medical malpractice can encompass a wide range of a medical care provider’s behavior, however, including the sexualization of a patient-doctor relationship. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of the procedural laws regarding any claim against a medical provider for any inappropriate treatment, to avoid waiving the right to pursue damages.

This was demonstrated in a case decided by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York in which the court held that a plaintiff’s claim that a psychiatrist fraudulently induced her into a sexual relationship was a medical malpractice claim governed by the two-and-a-half year statute of limitations. If you suffered harm due to a medical provider’s inappropriate care, you should meet with a trusted Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case and develop a plan for seeking compensation.

Allegations Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

Reportedly, the plaintiff began treating with the defendant psychiatrist in 1992. Eleven years after her treatment began, the defendant allegedly told the plaintiff that if she had sex with him it would improve her marriage and her mental health. He further advised the plaintiff that if she did not have sex with him, it would be detrimental to her health and marriage. The plaintiff submitted to the defendant’s request based on reliance on his statements and engaged in a sexual relationship with the defendant until 2012 when she ceased treatment. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the defendant fraudulently induced her into a sexual relationship, which caused her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, financial harm, and caused the end of her marriage. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim as time-barred, which the court granted. The plaintiff appealed.

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New York medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to the same civil procedure rules as other litigation in New York courts. These rules guide all phases of the litigation and are comprised of deadlines, requests, and filings made to the court. Sometimes lawsuits are dismissed because of procedural lapses, instead of being dismissed on the merits of the malpractice claim. In one case, the New York Appellate Division, Fourth Department ruled on whether the plaintiff’s lawsuit should have been dismissed pursuant to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, Rule 3404.

The facts of the case are as follows. A patient was admitted to a Niagara Falls hospital’s psychiatric wing. While under the psychiatrist’s care, the patient leaped from the top of the hospital’s roof and suffered serious injuries. The guardian of the patient filed a psychiatric malpractice lawsuit against the patient’s psychiatrist. The pre-trial litigation phase of discovery commenced, and the plaintiff filed a note of issue. In response, the defendant moved to vacate the note of issue because discovery was incomplete, the defendant alleged. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion and ordered additional discovery.

The plaintiff did not file a new note of issue for another year. Thus, the defendant moved to dismiss the psychiatric malpractice claim pursuant to Rule 3404. This procedural rule allows for the judicial dismissal of inactive cases under certain prescribed situations. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that 3404 did not apply when the note of issue has been vacated. The court denied the defendant’s motion and noted that this very issue was subject to inconsistent rulings at the trial court level.

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