The Most Common Reasons Mental Health Professionals Get Sued

October 2nd, 2019
The Most Common Reasons Mental Health Professionals Get Sued

Mental health professionals face lawsuits every day for small acts of negligence or perhaps big cases of intentional harm. From exploitation of patients to improper dosing of medication, the suit can quickly turn into malpractice. These are some common reasons mental health professionals face lawsuits.

Improper medication and dosing

Negligence is one of the most common reasons mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, face lawsuits. This can include prescribing the wrong medication or even the wrong dosage. This is not unusual – sometimes patients are misdiagnosed and prescribed incorrect medicine. However, prescribing too much of certain medications can make the illness worse. It can also create added side effects that complicate treating the illness. It must be proven in a court that the professional was negligent, meaning they failed to act reasonably in the situation. Because of this, patients must prove the standard of care and breach of the standard of care. The standard of care is the reasonable actions most psychiatrists would have taken in the given situation. The breach is the failure of this action.


In some cases, patients will make threats of acts of violence towards themselves or others. A medical professional typically must maintain patient-doctor confidentiality. However, if a patient says they are going to kill someone, even though they hold an agreement with the patient, the mental health professional needs to decide if the threat seems valid. In addition, in some states professionals can get sued for not telling authorities if the act of violence is committed. In some states you are breaking confidentiality rules if a threatened act of violence is not committed.


Misdiagnosing also ties in with improper dosing and medication. By misdiagnosing a patient, this means they could be on the wrong medication. This could also mean a medical health professional misdiagnosed an illness. Sometimes clinicians also gravitate to diagnosing a patient with something they feel comfortable with. In cases, some psychiatrists diagnose illnesses that are treatable with drugs, such as bi-polar disorder. Misdiagnosing not only delays treatment that the patient needs, but can also be extremely dangerous for their physical health by taking the wrong drugs as well as their mental health.

Legal Representation For Mental Health Professionals in East Brunswick

If you’re a mental health professional facing a lawsuit, it may be in your best interests to find an attorney. Because of this, please contact Bowne Barry and Barry Law for representation or a consultation to discuss your case and potential options.