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June 11, 1997

Psychiatric Malpractice: Stories of Patients, Psychiatrists, and the Law

Author Affiliations

Fullerton, Calif

JAMA. 1997;277(22):1815-1816. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540460081043

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Psychiatric Malpractice

Psychiatric Malpractice is written by an attorney who has a history of bipolar disease. It is particularly suited to the novitiate psychiatrist and the general psychiatrist who wants to know about the liability aspect of psychiatric practice.

James Kelley presents classic malpractice cases with good and bad outcomes for the patient: prescription for the wrong medication, release of patients who were still acutely ill, violence by a patient against another person, and unusual disputes about the standard of psychiatric care. Of particular interest are cases of sexual misconduct by psychiatrists. In California Medical Board punishments, sexual misconduct with a patient is near the top of the list along with drugs. Kelley chose the cases not only for their intrinsic interest, but also because of the legal issues involved and the public attention evoked.

One of Kelley's claims is that it is not necessary for psychotherapists to keep notes