Can I sue my psychiatrist? 13 Answers as of February 17, 2012

A psychiatrist prescribed me 2 mg of lorazapam per day for years, knowing I was an alcoholic/addict and I was trying to stop. Although it was my own fault for not doing the research on the drug, although I did do a little, I had no idea the dangers involved in taking this drug while being an active alcoholic. Due to this I required a week of medical detox and a 90 day stay in a rehabilitation center. I am 6 months sober and baffled as to how he could ethically or legally prescribe me this with full knowledge of my history.

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Lombardi Law Firm
Lombardi Law Firm | Steve Lombardi
Yes you can sue your psychiatrist, but I dont think you can win. Im fond of saying you can sue anyone you want to sue, but thats not the right question to ask. A more useful question is, If I sue the psychiatrist would I win? Here are the facts. Ask me that question and Im still going to say no joy on this set of facts. I'm not sure I follow your thinking on causation. You admit to being an alcoholic and eventually needing detox, but you want the psychiatrist to be responsible to pay for detox. How would I prove there is something the psychiatrist did that made you drink? Perhaps Im missing yoru point but isnt this a question of what came first the chicken or the egg? You were drinking first and then started taking Lorazepam on top of the drinking. How do we prove the psychiatrist caused your substance abuse? Perhaps your point is the psychiatrist contributed to your lack of sobriety and substance abuse. If thats the case how then would we prove which part since you continued to drink while taking the meds. And by the way I believe the drug is Lorazepam, brand name Ativan, no a its an e. Its also marketed as _Temesta_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam) . According to _PubMed_ (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000560/) Lorazepam is used to relieve anxiety. Were you also suffering from anxiety? I was a psychology major in college and did a practicum year at Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. The psychiatrist who directed that program was very good. His thinking was that most alcoholics had underlying psychiatric disorders and were masking those symptoms with alcoholism. Once you got the substance abuse stopped it was then time to treat the underlying disorder. Stop blaming the psychiatrist and everyone else around you and start taking responsibility for your own actions or inactions in life. When you get up in the morning and look in the mirror there is only you who either makes positive or negative decisions. Whether you know it or not you make a decision every day to either be a success or not. You made that decision this morning whether youll admit it or not. By days end if youve done nothing to advance your success there is only one person to blame and its not the psychiatrist. Wikipedia - Lorazepam (initially marketed under the brand names Ativan and Temesta) is a high-potency short-to-intermediate-acting 3-hydroxy _benzodiazepine_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzodiazepine) drug that has all five intrinsic benzodiazepine effects: _anxiolytic_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxiolytic) , _amnesic_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anterograde_amnesia) , _sedative_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedative) /_hypnotic_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnotic) , _anticonvulsant_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anticonvulsant) , _antiemetic_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiemetic) and _muscle relaxant_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_relaxant) ._[4]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Riss-2008-3) _[5]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Hindmarch-4) Lorazepam is used for the short-term treatment of anxiety, insomnia, acute seizures including_status epilepticus_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_epilepticus) and sedation of hospitalised patients, as well as sedation of aggressive patients._[5]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Hindmarch-4) _[6]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Cox-2008-5) _[7]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Walker-2005-6) _[8]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Battaglia-2005-7) Lorazepam is considered to be a short-acting drug which, similar to other benzodiazepines, exerts its therapeutic as well as adverse effects via its interaction at benzodiazepine binding sites, which are located on _GABAA receptors_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GABAA_receptor) in the _central nervous system_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_nervous_system) . After its introduction in 1977, lorazepam's principal use was in treating _anxiety_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxiety) . Among benzodiazepines, lorazepam has a relatively high _addictive_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substance_use_disorder) potential._[4]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Riss-2008-3) _[9]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-8) Lorazepam also has abuse potential; the main types of misuse are for recreational purposes or continued use against medical advice._[10]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Griffiths-2005-9) The sedative-hypnotic and anterograde amnesia properties of lorazepam are sometimes used for criminal purposes._[11]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-pmid15029082-10) _[12]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Kintz-2007-11) _Long-term effects of benzodiazepines_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-term_effects_of_benzodiazepines) include _tolerance_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_tolerance) , _dependence_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_dependence) , a _benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzodiazepine_withdrawal_syndrome) and _cognitive impairments_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_impairment) which may not completely reverse after cessation of treatment; however, for most patients, cognitive impairment is not severe. Withdrawal symptoms can range from _anxiety_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxiety) and _insomnia_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insomnia) to _seizures_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seizures) and _psychosis_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychosis) . Due to tolerance and dependence, lorazepam is recommended for short-term use, 24 weeks only. Adverse effects including _anterograde amnesia_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anterograde_amnesia) , _depression_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_depression) and _paradoxical effects_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradoxical_effects) such as excitement or worsening of seizures may occur. Children and the elderly are more sensitive to the adverse effects of benzodiazepines._[4]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Riss-2008-3) _[13]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Stewart-2005-12) _[14]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Altrx2007-13) Lorazepam impairs body balance and standing steadiness and is associated with falls and hip fractures in the elderly._[15]_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam#cite_note-Mets-2010-14)
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 11/7/2011
R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Robert Kelly
Health care professionals can be sued for negligence when they fail to follow the accepted standards of care in their fields. RCW 7.70. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=7.70. Proving that requires the testimonial opinion of another health care professional. MILLER v. JACOBY, 102 Wn. App. 256 (2000) (http://www.mrsc.org/wa/courts/index_dtSearch.html).
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 11/4/2011
Law Office of Jared Altman
Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
For a medical malpractice case to be worth pursuing there must be substantial permanent injuries. These kinds of cases are expensive and labor intensive. Only a severe injury warrants the costs, commitment and risk of loss that an attorney must assume. If you are okay now, then I think that it's probably not worth pursuing.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/4/2011
Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C.
Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C. | Kenneth Wincorn
You have a medical malpractice case that is very difficult to win in Texas. Your injuries are limited and the cost is very high to proceed. Contact a malpractice lawyer for a consultation.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 11/4/2011
Richard E. Lewis, P.S.
Richard E. Lewis, P.S. | Richard Eugene Lewis
Certainly, his prescription was not appropriate. Proving your in-patient treatment was from the medication and not the underlying disease is likely to be very difficult. You can consult a competent attorney in your area, but it is probably a case I would decline. Wish you the best going forward and staying sober.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 11/4/2011
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    You must prove that he violated the medical standard of care. You must do that with the testimony of another psychiatrist. Your opinion won’t count for much. Get you a doctor’s opinion and you have a place to start.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    Every time you refilled the script, the pharmacy included a long sheet of warnings in fine print. Sounds like you still need to accept responsibility for you choices rather than look to blame well-meaning healthcare providers.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Broad Law Firm, LLC
    Broad Law Firm, LLC | Donald K. Broad
    You may have a case, but medical malpractice laws vary from state to state. You should consult a personal injury attorney in your area who specializes in medical malpractice.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 2/17/2012
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    In order to prove a medical malpractice case (including psychiatric malpractice) a claimant must prove a failure to conform to accepted practice, resulting in an injury. A bad result is not enough, and if it is a "judgment call" by the doctor, there is no malpractice, even if the doctor made the wrong call.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    You can sue if you can find an expert psychiatrist will attest that it was below the standard of care to prescribe this medication given that you were an alcoholic.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    Only if you can get another psychiatrist to agree to testify against him.......(or her)
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/4/2011
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