Psychiatric abuse Attorneys

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Patients and their families have the right to expect safe and appropriate treatment from the professionals and institutions entrusted with their mental health care. Sadly, Georgia’s mental health system has become increasingly dangerous for patients across the state. Institutional psychiatric abuse, which includes sexual abuse or assault, is common and an increasing concern across Georgia.

Sexual abuse cases in the context of psychiatric abuse cases usually involve both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit. Law enforcement should take care of the criminal case with the prosecutor’s office where the offense took place, while a psychiatric abuse attorney can file a civil lawsuit against the institutional facility and other accused parties on behalf on their injured client. The shame that this type of injury can bring to patients and their families, combined with a wide-spread failure to protect this vulnerable group, makes these cases both sensitive and legally complicated.

If you or someone you love has been a victim of psychiatric abuse, sexual abuse, or sexual assault by an employee in a mental health facility, it is crucial you consult with an experienced psychiatric abuse attorney. Our psychiatric abuse attorneys at Kicklighter Law understand your rights and can help you pursue just compensation.

What is Institutional Psychiatric Abuse?

Institutional psychiatric abuse, including sexual abuse or assault, is much more common than many Georgia residents may realize. Oftentimes, it is not until a family member or loved one of the abused patient eventually notices that something is wrong that a report is made. Sadly, psychiatric and sexual abuse can go on for an extended time before anyone is ever informed or the criminal acts are addressed. The emotional trauma and physical pain that psychiatric patients experience due to abuse by an employee or medical professional of the facility where they were admitted can be life-altering.

Psychiatric patients are vulnerable for a range of reasons, making it crucial that they have an experience psychiatric abuse attorney by their side to help protect their rights and pursue their case. Sexual abusers can take advantage of a medical diagnosis to discredit the victim based on their mental illness. Placing a loved one in a mental health facility is a difficult enough decision to make without the worry of any kind of psychiatric or sexual abuse. Consulting with a psychiatric abuse attorney as soon as possible can help put families at ease knowing that someone is fighting to ensure they compensated for the harm done to their loved one.

Why Does Psychiatric Abuse Continue to Occur?

Even when government agencies discover cases of abuse, negligence, or shocking systemic problems, sanctions are rarely given. Instead, regulators have relied on hospitals and other institutions to correct their own deficiencies. According to federal authorities, at least seven Georgia psychiatric centers remain unsafe. Perhaps most disturbing is that state facilities continue to admit vulnerable psychiatric patients with little or no public notice of their dangerous failures.

Psychiatric institutions in Georgia have put more effort into covering up their own neglect of patients than making the necessary changes to their programs. They may attempt to debrief a certain version of events and fraudulently document the care of their patients in ways that only protects their hospital and offices. For these reasons it is important to have a skilled attorney to protect your rights and best interests in these kinds of cases.

What Should Parents Know About Psychiatric Abuse?

Families regularly take their children to ERs at a local pediatric or general hospital when they fall into a mental health crisis. In serious cases, their children will get transferred to a psychiatric hospital for crisis care. Time and again, Georgia’s mental health system has failed to serve the state’s growing number of dangerously depressed and suicidal children.

Parents often have no way of knowing if the facility treating their child has a history of serious patient care problems. Regardless of whether children have informed parents, private insurance, or a government health plan, many are failed by the doctors, therapists, and child-centered mental programs that they need and trust.

The oversight at Georgia psychiatric facilities is notoriously inept and lacking, as revealed through recent investigations and lawsuits. Inadequate monitoring of psychiatric hospitals and staff members is just one reason for these failures. Parents of children who experienced psychiatric or sexual abuse at a mental health facility should contact a dedicated psychiatric abuse attorney as soon as possible to learn their rights and review their legal options.

What is Psychiatric or Mental Health Malpractice?

Mental health patients require sensitive care and understanding, which makes their relationship with their psychiatrist is one of the most delicate in the medical field. Psychiatric or other mental health care is viewed just like any other medical care under Georgia law. Negligence by a psychiatrist is considered a form of medical malpractice and should be pursued with the help of an experienced attorney. When psychiatrists or other mental health professionals neglect patients or abuse their positions of power, those harmed are entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Kicklighter Law are dedicated to helping victims in these types of cases and have deep knowledge of Georgia medical malpractice law.

What Are Common Types of Mental Health Malpractice?

Perhaps more than any other professional relationship, psychiatrists and patients have a close relationship of trust. Psychiatrists have a duty to do everything within reason to care for their patients, to carefully assess them for risks, and to never abuse their position of power.

Psychiatric malpractice can occur if a medical professional engages in unprofessional conduct or fails to provide a patient with the level of care they need. This can include circumstances such as:

  • Abandoning the patient
  • Abuses of Power
  • Detaining the patient involuntarily without cause
  • Emotionally abusing the patient
  • Engaging in a sexual relationship with the patient
  • Failing to diagnose the patient
  • Failing to get informed consent from the patient
  • Failing to prevent suicide
  • Failing to properly supervise a patient who is at risk of harm to themself or others
  • Failing to warn others who were at risk because of the patient
  • Falsifying patient records
  • Incorrectly prescribing medication
  • Misdiagnosing the patient
  • Physically abusing the patient
  • Sharing information without patient consent
  • Threatening or intimidating the patient

While every patient relationship is important and should be treated with care, the manner in which psychiatrists handle psychiatric patients requires extra consideration. Determining if you or a loved one has experienced malpractice requires the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney who will review the details of your case and advise you of your legal options.

What Are the Relevant and Recent Lawsuits in Georgia?

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Georgia, accusing the state of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by improperly segregating hundreds of Georgians with mental illness and developmental disabilities in institutions. The department’s civil rights division also filed a motion seeking the appointment of a federal monitor to protect patients from harm to their lives, health, and safety.

Federal prosecutors listed several violent incidents, including a murder, rape, several suicides at state mental hospitals in years past. Recent lawsuits allege that patients confined in Georgia’s mental hospitals are still exposed to egregious harm, with patients attacking one another and receiving poor and unsafe treatment. A multimillion-dollar settlement was reached in a group of lawsuits arising from a sexual abuse and malpractice scandal at a psychiatric treatment center for adolescents. Allegations in the lawsuit included sexual abuse by counselors, as well as psychiatric malpractice. The total payout of these settlements was over $36 million, the highest ever in the state of Georgia.

Our Dedicated Attorneys at Kicklighter Law Help Patients and Families in Psychiatric Abuse Cases

If you know or suspect that your loved one has been sexually assaulted in a hospital or psychiatric facility, or experienced another form of psychiatric abuse, it is imperative to work with an experienced psychiatric abuse attorney. Our compassionate attorneys at Kicklighter Law actively advocate for abused patients and their families so that they are fully and fairly compensated for the pain and injustice they endured.

To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at 912-754-6003 or fill out our online form. Conveniently located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients in Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.