Doctor accused of failing to diagnose bipolar, causing suicide

In cases of severe mental illness, suicide prevention may be one of the top priorities for the doctors involved in the patient’s treatment. In the case of an Illinois man who committed suicide last year, his psychiatrist is accused of misdiagnosing his bipolar disorder and failing to take reasonable steps to prevent his death.

This medical malpractice suit was filed in June by the patient’s widow. The patient went to the psychiatrist in January 2012 for help with depression and suicidal tendencies. According to the widow, his symptoms were due to bipolar disorder, but the physician failed to diagnose that condition.

The doctor treated the patient for just a few weeks before he committed suicide. His widow says that the doctor’s treatment was not effective and that her husband’s condition actually worsened in that time. Besides the failure to diagnose, she believes that the psychiatrist did not properly monitor the man after prescribing him powerful medication. She is seeking more than $225,000 in damages and court costs.

We normally talk about general practitioners, ER doctors and physicians who specialize in the body when we share medical malpractice stories on this blog. But psychiatrists are medical doctors too and are subject to the same standards of care as other doctors. When their treatments are negligently applied or based on impermissiable misdiagnosis, patients can needlessly continue to suffer and, in particularly tragic cases, end their lives.

We will provide updates to our readers on this failure to diagnose case when we learn about them.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, “Widow sues psychiatrist claiming husband’s depression not properly treated,” Andrea Dearden, June 26, 2013

Failure to Diagnose


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