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Ask the Experts

Question:

Is it appropriate to sue your psychiatrist if he overlooks a medical reason for your psychiatric condition which is later found out?

Answered by: Paul Appelbaum

For background, please see my response to the question: "I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition that for the past few years has been misdiagnosed as a treatment refractory psychiatric condition. What sort of compensation am I entitled to from the psychiatric community?"

It may be appropriate to sue a psychiatrist if he or she behaved negligently and harm resulted. Malpractice cases typically take years to be resolved, however, and often involve a good deal of stress for all concerned.

For example, plaintiffs may be required to undergo depositions in which they are questioned closely about their treatment and other aspects of their lives. Thus, whether to file a suit, even in the case of apparent negligence, is something that should be considered carefully with a qualified plaintiffs' attorney.

Among the factors to take into consideration are the likelihood of success, the probable amount of an award, and the stress involved in pursuing a judgment.