Share18 Shares 1K Doctors have often been seen as some of the smartest members of society, and with good reason. It takes years of training, constant retraining, and a lot more than just book smarts to be a good doctor. But they are still human, and humans are fallible. Mistakes are made every day, and while some of them can be insignificant, others can completely change lives.
Although there may be a perception that physicians are held responsible for the majority of lawsuits, the reality is that counselors are more frequently finding themselves defending the care they provide.
The client's intake form stated she was seeking treatment for problems in her marriage, symptoms related to being an adult child of an alcoholic, co-dependency and difficulties with communication. The defendant treated the client both separately and in couples' therapy sessions with her husband.
After two years of treatment, the client sought services from another counselor. During the initial session the second counselor learned the client had a sexual relationship with the defendant while she was under his care.
The treating counselor urged the client to report the defendant to authorities.
The counselor was subsequently reported to the State Department of Health and to law enforcement. The client accused the defendant of committing multiple boundary violations of a sexual and non-sexual nature.
She alleged that she and the defendant had a personal relationship outside of treatment sessions and engaged in sexual relations. It was also alleged that the defendant mishandled the transference phenomenon and failed to provide proper care.
The client further alleged that she suffered severe mental and emotional pain and suffering, guilt, shame and depression. She was treated by the second counselor for a year to learn how to manage the emotional distress related to the alleged inappropriate relationship with the defendant.
In the ensuing lawsuit, specific allegations against the defendant included malpractice, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, sexual misconduct, infliction of emotional pain and suffering by extreme and outrageous conduct, and failure to protect a person in a special relationship with the defendant.
The client sought damages for emotional distress, future therapy and lost income. A complaint was made to the State Department of Health and at the time the claim was resolved the defendant was under criminal investigation for additional criminal charges.
The defense attorney had several challenges. The defendant was reluctant to speak about the facts of the case and declined discussing the nature of his relationship with the client.
He would not confirm or deny having sexual relations with the client but indicated that her history included prior abuse and that he believed she suffered from a dissociative disorder and may also have multiple personality disorder.
No client-related documentation was provided by the defendant but e-mail communications that were not deemed confidential were introduced by the plaintiff's attorney. The plaintiff's counsel mounted a formidable attack.
E-mail communications provided by the plaintiff's attorney and records from the second counselor supported, at a minimum, allegations of unprofessional conduct and inappropriate treatment. The plaintiff's expert witness stated that the counselor breached the standard of care by: The counselor breached clinical, ethical and legal boundaries and standards of care by engaging in a personal and sexual relationship with his client.
By including the client's husband in her treatment, the counselor further breached his duty to the husband. Clients in need of counseling and therapy may have impaired ability to judge the appropriateness of their own or others' actions.
If the counselor fails to properly treat the client and fails to protect the client from engaging in inappropriate actions there may be grounds for criminal charges including rape, assault and accepting financial payment under false pretenses. If the client made initial overtures toward the counselor or he identified inappropriate personal feelings for the client that he was unable to resolve, he should have made arrangements for his client to be timely and seamlessly transferred to another counselor rather than continuing treatment and engaging in an inappropriate relationship.
Risk Management Recommendations Never engage in a personal, physical or sexual relationship or any other form of unprofessional conduct with a client. Provide patients with written rights and responsibilities including expectations for treatment, as well as acceptable behaviors by both the counselor and the client prior to initiating treatment.
The use of e-mail or other public forms of communication related to client care is not confidential and, as in this case, may be discoverable in the case of litigation.
Guide to Sample Risk Management Plan.Tort reform refers to proposed changes in the civil justice system that aim to reduce the ability of victims to bring tort litigation or to reduce damages they can receive..
Tort actions are civil common law claims first created in the English commonwealth system as a non-legislative means for compensating wrongs and harm done by one party to another person, property or other protected. An overview of the common types of medical negligence claims.
Most medical malpractice suits can be put into one of the following main categories of physician negligence. Apr 19, · When it comes to choosing a doctor (or continuing to see your current doctor), few things can ruin your day faster than learning they’ve been sued for malpractice.
Counselors and Medical Malpractice - Case Study with Risk Management Strategies Presented by HPSO and CNA Medical malpractice claims can be asserted against any .
Medical malpractice trials are the culmination of an often arduous and adversarial lawsuit process. Once a case actually goes to trial, months or sometimes years of pre-trial investigation is brought to bear in an attempt to prove that a physician breached the medical standard of care and caused you to be injured.
Updating the database of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) is an ongoing process. Recent laws may not yet be included in the ILCS database, but they are found on this site as Public Acts soon after they become law.
For information concerning the relationship .