Malpractice Issues Arising during Initial Contacts with the Psychiatric Patient
The psychiatrist who meets the patient for the first time in the office, the hospital, the emergency room, or some other setting is immediately subject to the regulation of both statutory and malpractice law. Statutes may require the psychiatrist to report gunshot wounds and child abuse, or they may prevent the physician from giving narcotic drugs to a person who is suspected of being an addict. Statutory law also governs the process of voluntary and involuntary commitment to a mental hospital. The psychiatrist who decides to hospitalize an adult or child must be aware of the procedural requirements of the law and follow them assiduously. Frequently, statutory and malpractice regulatory factors are intertwined. Failure to follow statutory regulations with regard to civil commitment, for example, may subject the psychiatrist to a malpractice action. The main emphasis in this chapter is on malpractice risks which arise when the psychiatrist-patient relationship is initiated and the psychiatrist assumes a duty to the patient. Statutory law will be noted only as far as it has implications for malpractice. Discussion of statutory regulation of psychiatry with particular emphasis on civil commitment will be discussed in detail in Part II.
KeywordsEmergency Room Suicidal Patient Medical Malpractice Civil Commitment Statutory Regulation
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