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Ask the Experts

Question:

My wife’s psychiatrist treated her in an unprofessional and deplorable manner. What can I do?

Answered by: Paul Appelbaum

You might begin by approaching the psychiatrist directly, with your wife's permission, to talk about the behavior. Sometimes even mental health professionals are unaware of the ways in which they come across to their patients. That might be helpful to the psychiatrist's other patients, who would then avoid being subject to similar behavior in the future.

If that approach is unsuccessful, or you judge that a more serious investigation is appropriate, you have two options: 1) to file an ethics complaint with the appropriate district branch of the American Psychiatric Association (assuming the psychiatrist is an APA member); or 2) to file a complaint with the medical licensure board in your state. Both groups can require the psychiatrist to take remedial steps or can impose sanctions. Ultimately, if your wife was injured by the behavior, you might consult an attorney regarding her legal remedies available and the possibility of obtaining compensation.