20 questions for the CEO.


Risk management with suicidal patients.

The patient who is at-risk for suicide is complex and is difficult to evaluate and treat effectively. Should suicidal behavior occur, the clinician faces the potential wrath of bereaved survivors and their externalized blame exercised through a malpractice suit.

Suicide, Suicide Litigation, and Borderline Personality Disorder

In the category of malpractice liability affecting mental health practitioners of all disciplines, malpractice based on suicide is the leading claim by a significant margin. The first part of the discussion in this paper considers the theory, practice, & psychology of malpractice litigation itself in relation to suicide. The second part describes how those basic […]

Degree of Proof Necessary to Establish Proximate Causation of Suicide

This article discusses the case of Thompson versus Patton in which the Supreme Court of Alabama reviewed the trial court’s decision to grant a motion for summary judgment in favour of the defendant in a malpractice suit alleging negligence by a psychiatrist who discharged a patient from the hospital 3 days before the patient’s suicide. […]

Avoiding Malpractice Lawsuits by Following Risk Assessment and Suicide Prevention Guidelines

This article reviews several American cases in which psychiatrists &/or social workers failed to protect patients. This includes failure to conduct a comprehensive biopsychosocial & lethality assessment, failure to warn of imminent risk of suicide, &/or breach of duty to care standards. Each case presentation concludes with recommendations for actions. Next, the article identifies common […]

Counseling Suicidal Adolescents Within Family Systems: Ethical Issues


Suicide-Related Litigation in Jails and Prisons: Risk Management Strategies


Malpractice Liability in Suicide

This article discusses malpractice liability in the United States as it pertains to clinicians working with suicidal patients. The discussion is interspersed with information from judicial rulings. Strategies to avoid malpractice suits are outlined. (8 refs.)

Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk: Guidelines for Clinically Based Risk Management


Legal Issues of Psychiatric Malpractice in Suicide Cases


Liability When Patients die After Treatment: how to Manage Requests for Pain Medication and Post-Discharge Suicide Risks

This article briefly discusses judicial rulings in two American cases where psychiatric patients died after treatment. In one case, the patient’s estate claimed the psychiatrist was negligent in discharging the patient from hospital without a post-discharge recovery plan. However, it was shown that such a plan was in place & the jury found for the […]

Liability in Patient Suicide

This article reviews three cases from the United States in which clinicians were sued for malpractice after the suicide or attempted suicide of a patient. In all three cases, the jury found for the defense. The author notes 4 things plaintiffs must show to win a malpractice claim: duty to care, negligence, harm, & causation. […]

Suicide and Self-Harm: Key Issues in Litigation in Mental Health Care

For many years, it has been recognized many patients in mental health services die by suicide & acts of serious self-harm and, in turn, that a substantial proportion of these tragedies could be prevented. This article provides information on matters of context & identifies important issues for lawyers & expert witnesses. (3)

Supporting Staff After Serious Incidents

This article examines how health care professionals can be supported after making a medical error. The topic of error is important both for learning & its impact on staff. Although medical errors are not a usual concern after a patient suicide, the impact of the death on health care professionals can be similar. There may […]

Naked Suicide

Suicide attempts & completions by individuals while naked remain unexplored, both by clinicians & in the professional literature. Nakedness at the time of the incident conveys important information about an individual’s mental state. Motivations for attempting or completing suicide while naked are discussed. Nakedness during a suicide attempt is presumptive evidence of high risk for […]

Psychiatrists Awake! Suicide Risk Asessments are all About a Good Night’s Sleep


Book Review – Breakdown: Sex, Suicide, and the Harvard Psychiatrist by E McNamara


Risk Assessment, Prediction, and Foreseeability

Avoiding the Malpractice Snare: Documenting Suicide Risk Assessment

Organization Liability: Beyond Respondeat Superior

The Standard of Care in Suicide Risk Assessment: an Elusive Concept

Suicide risk assessment is a core competency requirement in the residency training of psychiatrists. The purpose of suicide risk assessment is to identify high-risk suicide factors, & available protective factors that inform patient treatment & safety management. The standard of care varies according to state statutory definitions & no single source or authority defines standard […]

Suicide Watch: Liability for Negligent Psychiatric Care


Suicide, Psychiatric Malpractice, and the Bell Curve