Team approach can help, but only if adequate
The increased patient volume from the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) can put pressure on a hospital's team approach to patient care, notes Roger L. Hillman, JD, an owner with the law firm of Garvey Schubert Barer in Seattle.
It is common for mental health problems to be treated with a team approach in which a psychologist provides therapy and a psychiatrist prescribes medication, and the patient might see other healthcare professionals as needed. The coordination of those services often comes up in lawsuits alleging failure to adequately assess a patient's care and propensity for violence, Hillman says.
"The psychiatrist sees the patient once a month for 10 minutes, and the question from the plaintiff will be whether he took the time to read the notes from the whole month of therapy before prescribing," Hillman explains. "The answer from the doctor will be that he didn't have time to do that. That answer will not serve you well."
The liability from such a lawsuit can be enormous, Hillman notes.
"If somebody shoots up a public place, you will be facing multiple claims for loss of life," he says. "Providers would prefer a medical malpractice case over that, I'm sure."