December 15, 2022
Mental health awareness has grown immensely over the last decade as more people consider mental health to be a fundamental component to well-being, especially with 1 in 5 American adults experiencing a mental health issue.1 While this is good for patients to receive the help they desire, the increased need for mental health professionals has increased the risk of professional liability as a result.
The increase in need for mental health professionals is causing burnout in workers, breaches of trust, poor documentation, misdiagnoses and other mistakes that could lead to professional malpractice issues.
Burnout is up across the board for health care professionals, so it’s no surprise it’s affecting those in the mental health field. Not only have in-person appointments started back up, but tele-counseling appointments have continued in their popularity — giving mental health professionals a larger workload.
With so many patients going through difficult times, mental health professionals may suffer from compassion fatigue. This is a form of constant worry about a patient and may result in a state of tiredness that interferes with a mental health professional’s ability to fully help a patient.2
From the start, it’s important to have proper documentation for your client. Appropriate items to document include details about a patient’s medical diagnosis, case history, treatment, suicide risk and informed consent. Items not needed to document include interpersonal conflicts and names of other individuals. Your legal defense in a malpractice action can be helped by having good documentation of your treatment.
To avoid misdiagnosing patients, try these risk management best practices:3
Patients that receive the wrong medication or dosage can file a malpractice claim against a mental health professional. To ensure patients are receiving the adequate amount of a prescription, document how much you are giving and what the medicine is named; that way you have proper knowledge of what was prescribed and the dosage. It’s also important to review medications with patients before they begin taking them. Informed consent is always good risk management.
Mental health professionals have a lot to think about when working with their patients to make sure they are practicing safely and following all guidelines to avoid a professional malpractice claim. Choosing Proliability for professional liability insurance can help put your mind at ease in case you’re named in a claim. Your policy may cover licensing board reimbursement expenses, lawyer fees, deposition expenses and more.Back to Main page
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