Lessons Learned from a Recent Mental Health Contractor Lawsuit

Lessons Learned from a Recent Mental Health Contractor Lawsuit

Thursday, May 11, 2017/Categories: Healthcare Business Tips

Mental health contractor Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare (CBH) is being sued for close to $1 million by the family of Carrie Barnhart, a woman who committed suicide in April 2015. According to Insurance Journal, police removed Barnhart from a bridge and brought her to a county hospital for treatment. The woman was evaluated by a CBH case manager and released a few hours later. She died the next week.

According to the report, the lawsuit alleges the mental health contractor's case manager…

  • Did not provide an adequate treatment and recovery plan for Barnhart.
  • Failed have "meaningful contact" with Barnhart as her condition deteriorated.
  • Did not have the proper experience or training to treat the mentally ill.

The suit also names the hospital and an emergency room doctor, claiming they were negligent for releasing Barnhart to her home within walking distance of the bridge.

Sadly, the possibility that a patient suffering from serious mental health issues might take their own life is very real. Managing this risk is essential for protecting both your practice and your patients.

Don't Take on More Clients Than You Can Safely Manage

If the family's claims are true, one reason Barnhart may not have received appropriate care may be a lack of resources. County facilities often struggle to find the money and people they need to serve the community. This can result in overwhelmed workers who may make mistakes when treating patients.

Your small mental health practice can face the same problem. While you need to see enough clients to pay the bills, you want to balance that with your desire to provide quality care. If your caseload becomes too heavy, you may find yourself cutting corners. That opens you and your patients up to the risk that something might go wrong.

Lawsuits can crop up even if you follow every standard of care. Read "$4 Million Medical Malpractice Judgment against Doctor Who Basically Did Everything Right" to learn more.

Keep Up-to-Date with Your Education

The mental health field is constantly evolving. Continuing education class can help you stay current on the latest standards of care and best practices for the industry.

States typically govern the professional development requirements for licensed mental health professionals, such as minimum hours and the type of training. However, it's a good idea to learn on your own, as well. For instance, you could subscribe to trade journals, attend conferences, or read the latest mental health treatment news on blogs or other forums.

Carry Malpractice Insurance

You never know when your practice might be hit with a lawsuit. This is why it's important to have Malpractice Insurance. If a patient or their family sues you over their treatment, your malpractice coverage can pay for your legal expenses – even if you didn't do anything wrong.

In malpractice cases, lawyers have a tendency to sue everyone involved. They might even include staff that had limited contact with the patient. The post "Wrongful Death Lawsuit Names Dietitian, Nurse, Psychiatrist, and Aides" explains why lawyers cast such a wide net.

It's good to know Malpractice Insurance has your back, but it may not be the only coverage a mental health practitioner needs. Download a copy of "Business Health for Healthcare Businesses: How Insurance Keeps You Strong" for more details.


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