Malpractice in psychiatry often occurs because of medication errors. A provider may prescribe medications that require close monitoring and follow-up during all stages of the use of the drug and then fail to monitor, resulting in harm to the patient. Improper monitoring of medications like haldol or lithium or combining drugs with known drug interactions may occur in an inpatient facility. Failure to monitor the patient for toxicity, tardive dyskenisia, or cardiovascular side effects may result in harm to the patient. Tardive dyskenisia is a set of involuntary movements, such as tongue thrusting or head movements, that are often irreversible. Improper use of restraints in an inpatient hospital may be a cause for malpractice if the patient was harmed as a result of their use. Some cases of malpractice have arisen against providers and hospitals because patients were physically or sexually abused or neglected by aides, nurses, mid-level providers or psychiatrists.
Primary care providers may prescribe medications like anti-depressants, sedatives, benzodiazepenes such as Xanax and Valium, and not provide appropriate monitoring and follow-up with these patients. They may be unprepared to adequately monitor these patients because of their lack of training and experience with conditions such as bipolar disorder, severe depression, and psychosis, and may inappropriately treat patients, fail to refer them to the appropriate level of care, which may result in harm or the patient may commit suicide.
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