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Forty-Five Years of Civil Litigation Against Canadian Psychiatrists: An Empirical Pilot Study.
Can J Psychiatry. 2016 02; 61(2):112-8.CJ

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To extract the themes pertaining to prudent psychiatric practice from written court judgments in Canada.

METHODS

We searched the medical and legal literature for cases involving civil litigation against Canadian psychiatrist and reviewed all available written judgments. We completed a thematic analysis of the civil actions against psychiatrists as conveyed by those written court judgments. We classified the cases according to the disposal status and the essential lessons from the decisions on standard of care and practice by Canadian psychiatrists.

RESULTS

Forty such cases were identified as involving psychiatrists over a 45-year period. A subgroup included those dealing with limitation periods and disclosure applications. Thirty of the 40 cases (75%) were decided in favour of the defendant psychiatrists, including 2 dismissed for running over the limitation period. The cases that actually went to trial suggest that documentation and obtaining second opinions are protective against claims of negligence. Inpatient cases resulting in successful litigation against psychiatrists involved fatal outcomes, but not all fatal outcomes led to successful litigation.

CONCLUSIONS

The key lessons from these cases are the importance and relevance of regular best clinical practices, such as documentation, obtaining second opinions, following guidelines, and balancing competencies in the expert and manager or advocate roles. Incorporating these practices should allay concerns about litigation against psychiatrists.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry, Royal University Hospital, University of Saskatchewan and College of Law, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan mansfieldmela@gmail.com.College of Law and Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

27253702

Citation

Mela, Mansfield, et al. "Forty-Five Years of Civil Litigation Against Canadian Psychiatrists: an Empirical Pilot Study." Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie, vol. 61, no. 2, 2016, pp. 112-8.
Mela M, Luther G, Gutheil TG. Forty-Five Years of Civil Litigation Against Canadian Psychiatrists: An Empirical Pilot Study. Can J Psychiatry. 2016;61(2):112-8.
Mela, M., Luther, G., & Gutheil, T. G. (2016). Forty-Five Years of Civil Litigation Against Canadian Psychiatrists: An Empirical Pilot Study. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie, 61(2), 112-8. https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743715625943
Mela M, Luther G, Gutheil TG. Forty-Five Years of Civil Litigation Against Canadian Psychiatrists: an Empirical Pilot Study. Can J Psychiatry. 2016;61(2):112-8. PubMed PMID: 27253702.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Forty-Five Years of Civil Litigation Against Canadian Psychiatrists: An Empirical Pilot Study. AU - Mela,Mansfield, AU - Luther,Glen, AU - Gutheil,Thomas G, PY - 2016/6/3/entrez PY - 2016/6/3/pubmed PY - 2017/12/9/medline KW - Canada KW - civil litigation KW - confidentiality KW - malpractice KW - psychiatrists SP - 112 EP - 8 JF - Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie JO - Can J Psychiatry VL - 61 IS - 2 N2 - OBJECTIVES: To extract the themes pertaining to prudent psychiatric practice from written court judgments in Canada. METHODS: We searched the medical and legal literature for cases involving civil litigation against Canadian psychiatrist and reviewed all available written judgments. We completed a thematic analysis of the civil actions against psychiatrists as conveyed by those written court judgments. We classified the cases according to the disposal status and the essential lessons from the decisions on standard of care and practice by Canadian psychiatrists. RESULTS: Forty such cases were identified as involving psychiatrists over a 45-year period. A subgroup included those dealing with limitation periods and disclosure applications. Thirty of the 40 cases (75%) were decided in favour of the defendant psychiatrists, including 2 dismissed for running over the limitation period. The cases that actually went to trial suggest that documentation and obtaining second opinions are protective against claims of negligence. Inpatient cases resulting in successful litigation against psychiatrists involved fatal outcomes, but not all fatal outcomes led to successful litigation. CONCLUSIONS: The key lessons from these cases are the importance and relevance of regular best clinical practices, such as documentation, obtaining second opinions, following guidelines, and balancing competencies in the expert and manager or advocate roles. Incorporating these practices should allay concerns about litigation against psychiatrists. SN - 1497-0015 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/27253702/Forty-Five_Years_of_Civil_Litigation_Against_Canadian_Psychiatrists:_An_Empirical_Pilot_Study DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -