While many psychiatric illnesses do not cause physical symptoms, they can nonetheless result in significant injuries if they are not properly treated. For example, if a doctor fails to observe a patient is harboring suicidal thoughts, it can have devastating consequences. Merely, because a patient who treated with a psychiatrist dies by suicide does not necessarily mean the psychiatrist committed malpractice, however. Rather, the deceased person’s estate must still prove all of the elements of a medical malpractice claim to recover damages, as demonstrated in a recent New York ruling. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to the negligence of a psychiatrist, you might be able to recover damages, and it is smart to speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to assess what evidence you must produce to establish liability.
The Facts of the Case
It is reported that the decedent treated with the defendant due to chronic depression. The defendant primarily treated people with depression that was not mitigated by traditional medications by administering ketamine. He subsequently treated the decedent with a ketamine infusion, which caused an immediate short-term worsening of his symptoms. There is no evidence that the defendant was aware of this, however.
Allegedly, the decedent returned for additional infusions and subsequently responded in a similar manner. The defendant evaluated the decedent as being at his chronic baseline despite the treatments but did not believe he was acutely at risk. Shortly thereafter, the decedent took his own life by overdosing on narcotics. The decedent’s spouse filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting medical malpractice claim and other causes of action. The defendant moved for summary judgment. The court ultimately granted the motion.
Establishing Liability for Medical Malpractice Under New York Law
Under New York law, a plaintiff seeking damages for medical malpractice must establish the standard of care that applies in the area where the treatment took place, a breach of the standard of care by the defendant, and an injury proximately caused by the breach. In the subject case, the plaintiff argued that the defendant’s failure to communicate a plan of treatment with the decedent’s spouse, report the decedent’s suicidal ideation to the authorities, and develop a safety plan of action constituted breaches of the standard of care.
The court rejected each of the plaintiff’s assertions. It noted that the prevailing law requires plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to set forth expert opinions regarding causation. As the plaintiff failed to do so as to any of the alleged breaches of the standard of care, the court found that his claims must fail. Thus, it granted the defendant’s motion.
Speak to an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney
Incompetent psychiatric care can cause lasting trauma, and people who suffer harm due to their treatment provider’s negligence may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you were hurt by the carelessness of a treatment provider it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney. The experienced attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at holding negligent healthcare providers accountable for the harm they cause, and if you hire us, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.