Issue: March 2015
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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Diagnosis and Treatment Failures

Introduction

Liability Risks for PTSD

PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults, and frequently is accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders. It may lead to erratic or criminal behavior, or even suicide.

 

Although PTSD may be associated most often with veterans, it affects a broad spectrum of the population. PTSD is one of the most common mental health conditions in the U.S. as more than half of the population in America has been exposed to the kind of traumatic event that can give a person PTSD. Events precipitating PTSD include assault, car accidents, domestic abuse, natural disasters, prison, sexual assault, terrorism, and war. Chronic PTSD, resulting from multiple traumas, is difficult to treat.

 

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 failures in diagnosing or treating PTSD.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish medical malpractice or negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury related to the diagnosis or treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

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?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s post-traumatic stress disorder? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use? 


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving post-traumatic stress disorder.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s post-traumatic stress disorder is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.” 

Expert Analysis

What Does a Forensic Psychiatrist Need To Find Causation in an Action Involving PTSD?

Harold J. Bursztajn, MD

What Criteria and Evidence Determine PTSD for Potential Litigation? 

Stewart M. Casper, JD

Why Do Some People Develop PTSD After a Disaster While Others Do Not?

Francis Abueg, PhD

Litigation

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 malpractice or negligence cases involving post-traumatic stress disorder? 



Medical Examples

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

This section provides detailed medical information on post-traumatic stress disorder including its occurrence and causes; onset, symptoms, stages; and diagnosis and treatment. This section also discusses the patient’s prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on post-traumatic stress disorder.  


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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Diagnosis and Treatment Failures

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Harold J. Bursztajn, MD
   Stewart M. Casper, JD
   Francis Abueg, PhD

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physician and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons To Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Law and Medicine Resources