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Current Issue: December 2014
Beyond the Holiday Blues: When Depression Leads to Liability

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Depression Patients: Liability Risks

More than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide according to the World Health Organization. Fewer than half of those affected by depression get treatment, sometimes because of a missed or incorrect diagnosis. Some patients are incorrectly diagnosed as having depression and inappropriately treated with antidepressants.


Many people believe that depression, anxiety, and suicide rates increase during the holiday season, although some studies indicate this may be more myth than fact.


Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with the diagnosis and treatment of depression.

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy


What proof is needed to establish a psychiatrist or other health care provider’s medical malpractice or negligence in diagnosing or treating depression? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?


How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury involving the diagnosis or treatment of depression? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?


Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the provider’s actions? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?


Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s depression? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use? 

Practice the Technique: Checklists


Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a physician or mental health provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence involving a patient’s depression.


A physician should review the items on this list when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving depression.


The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim involving the diagnosis or treatment of depression.


Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s depression is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.”

Expert Analysis

What Proof Must Be Presented in a Medical Malpractice Action for the Failure to Diagnose Depression?

Alan J. Lipman, JD, PhD

What Can Be Done to Prevent Depression and Suicide Among Military Personnel?

Alies Muskin

How Do Antidepressants Act, What Are Their Adverse Effects, and What Harm Is Associated with These Drugs?

Esam Z. Dajani, PhD, FACG


Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.   

Reasons To Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.

Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.  

Jury Awards And Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in cases involving claims for depression?

Medical Examples


This section provides detailed medical information on the important mental health issue of depression, including the etiology of depression, its symptoms, and diagnosis and treatment. The patient’s prognosis and ability to work also are discussed.  

Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on depression.

Medical Law Perspectives
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