One of the biggest challenges involved in treating mental health disorders is how hard it is to get patients to acknowledge their illness. Testing for mental health matters does not necessarily produce the black-and-white evidence that people can see after a physical injury.
Instead, doctors generally monitor someone for signs of cognitive and behavioral symptoms before reaching a diagnosis. The diagnostic process is often a lengthy one, meaning that a psychiatrist or similar mental health specialist usually cannot reach a conclusive diagnosis after a few sessions.
Unfortunately, the slow turnaround time for mental health diagnoses combined with the pressure on most inpatient facilities can lead to tragic outcomes for those struggling with their mental health.
Those released from care may be at high risk
Some people check themselves into mental health facilities because they recognize that they have begun to struggle. Others end up involuntarily committed because of something that occurs while they are in state custody or the actions taken by their family members.
Sadly, involuntary commitment usually only lasts for 72 hours unless there is very serious evidence gathered during that time. Many high-functioning and intelligent individuals struggling with mental health disorders can temporarily control their conduct. They may even manipulate what they disclose to mental health professionals to secure release from a facility.
In some cases, those allowed to leave after a few days of inpatient observation will spiral once they are left to their own devices. People sometimes commit suicide after a stay in a psychiatric facility. There’s research showing that someone recently diagnosed with a mental health disorder might be particularly high risk in terms of the chances of causing significant harm to themselves.
Unfortunately, the laws around mental health challenges and the practices of many facilities do not adequately address how dangerous it can be to release someone before they have received proper treatment. Those who have recently lost a loved one because of improper practices at a mental health facility, possibly including the release of a patient who demonstrated concerning signs of instability, could potentially have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Showing that mental health professionals failed to properly intervene and to take steps that others would view as reasonable could lead to closure for the family in the form of a successful medical malpractice lawsuit. A lawsuit could lead to the courts affirming the claims of family members that healthcare professionals failed to protect someone struggling with major mental health challenges.
Pursuing a medical malpractice claim after a poor outcome that affected someone in need of psychiatric support may benefit surviving family members grieving that person’s death and others who may eventually require support from that same facility in the future.