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Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor


TO THE EDITOR Psychiatrists who have legal difficulties by lawsuit are a legitimate area of interest for the profession. It is a difficult area with few empirical studies. I attempted to identify the more recent empirical data in this area. A literature search using Pub Med was performed to identify studies of malpractice lawsuits between the years 1990 and 2005. Studies were selected that had a representative sample base, empirical measures and at least 50 psychiatrists studied. A literature review yielding two empirical studies meeting review criteria ( 1 , 2 ) is summarized in Table 1 . The major finding of course is the lack of empirical research in this important area. The findings are of course limited by the small number of studies. However, many of the patients who sue or complain have significant psychiatric illness. Major area of legal difficulty include: incorrect treatment (including medication), suicide, failure to diagnose a medical condition and inappropriate sexual advances/contact. It appears that further empirical research in this area would be an aid to the field. Table 1 Empirical Studies of Psychiatrist Legal Difficulties Study Population Design Major Findings Legal/Financial Outcomes Slawson, PF, 1991 Psychiatrists N = 800, 22%
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