June 04, 2016

Sue a psychiatrist for malpractice? You'd have to be crazy

Sam SotiropoulosRebel Blogger

Psychiatry is a pseudo-science. In colloquial terms, it is malarkey. When was the last time a psychiatrist cured anyone of anything? Is it possible that psychiatrists are nothing more than quack remedy peddlers for Big Pharma: a.k.a. drug pushers?

Could psychiatry be the discipline into which Medical Associations shunt overly ambitious yet academically sub-par medical students who they do not trust to hold a scalpel or to be front-line general practitioners and specialists?

True science is based on scientific method which involves the rigorous observation of physical, verifiable phenomena; the formulation of hypotheses relating to the objects of study; experimentation to test premises, and the confirmation, modification or rejection of the proposition(s) advanced based on the ability of researchers to duplicate one or more theorized outcomes.

Considering this, does psychiatry qualify as science? Not really, as it is largely based on "treating" anecdotal states of mind, and any success rate cannot be empirically established or verified. In any given test group of psychiatric patients, results of "treatment" will vary with each individual involved. This indicates that outcomes often cannot be duplicated, except in a very general sense., i.e. tranquilizers will, well, tranquilize. On the other hand, behavioural control and modification can be duplicated.

Such influence is a terrifying tool in the wrong hands. At some point, people will look back on psychiatric activities and shake their heads, much like secularists view the practice of exorcism in our own day. Have you ever heard of a psychiatrist being successfully sued for malpractice? It almost never happens.

Psychiatrists have the lowest incidence of malpractice claims among state-licensed medical practitioners. This is not because they do such good work, but rather, because the moment anyone walks into a lawyer's office and tells them that they want to sue their psychiatrist for malpractice, hands are thrown in the air. Think about it. You see a psychiatrist? You must be of unsound mind. Good luck with that.

In a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011, entitled "Malpractice Risk According to Physician Specialty," the numbers emphasize the point. The methodology for the study runs as follows:

We analyzed malpractice data from 1991 through 2005 for all physicians who were covered by a large professional liability insurer with a nationwide client base (40,916 physicians and 233,738 physician-years of coverage). For 25 specialties, we reported the proportion of physicians who had malpractice claims in a year, the proportion of claims leading to an indemnity payment (compensation paid to a plaintiff), and the size of indemnity payments. We estimated the cumulative risk of ever being sued among physicians in high- and low-risk specialties.

Of the 40,916 physicians in the study, 3011 were psychiatrists and comprised the fifth largest group of individuals in identified fields of practice that took part. The average annual incidence of malpractice lawsuits among the psychiatric specialty was 2.6% of the total of 3011 psychiatrists, which equals 78.3 individuals. Across all specialties the average incidence of malpractice claims per annum was 7.6%. with 19.1% in neurosurgery, 18.9% in thoracic–cardiovascular surgery, and 15.3% in general surgery. The average across all specialties for incidences where claims resulted in indemnity payments was 1.6% of cases.

As the specific percentage for psychiatry was not indicated in the article cited above, I applied the average for all the specialties, or 1.6%, against the 78.3 individual psychiatrists at risk annually for malpractice claims, and the result is a staggering (sic) 1.25 psychiatrists! In other words, out of 3011 practicing psychiatrists, an average of 78.3 of them could expect malpractice suits against them in any given year. Of those, all things being equal, a mere 1.25 will be required to make indemnity payments to any claimants. Furthermore, the resulting payment in such successful claims is the third lowest amount of all the specialties examined, averaging around $50,000. Thus the prospects of conducting a successful malpractice lawsuit against your psychiatrist are not very good. And in the unlikely event that you win, the award may not even cover your legal costs.

The cultural theorist Michel Foucault singled out the psychiatric profession for criticism by exposing its origins in his book, Madness and Civilization. From the ludicrous to the inhumanely abusive practices that Foucault catalogues, his depiction of the origins of psychiatry as a pseudo-scientific practice driven by political and social forces is quite sobering. 

Is there anything of value in psychiatry? If the purpose of psychiatry is Pavlovian social engineering and behavioural conditioning of individuals to serve authoritarian political ends, then it is a valuable tool for anyone in the business of oppressing and controlling others.

That aside, there is little of healthful benefit in psychiatry, and even less that does not involve padding the bottom line of pharmaceutical concerns. Speaking of the pharmaceutics, it is now an established fact that psychiatric drugs are responsible for more deaths of users than heroin and cocaine. But just try and pursue a malpractice claim against the prescribers of those drugs and see how far you get.

I confess to being more than a little skeptical when it comes to anything that any psychiatrist may say or do in the course of their “practice”. My unsolicited and purely disinterested advice is to avoid them like the plague. But what do I know?

You must be logged in to comment. Click here to log in.
commented 2016-06-09 03:03:20 -0400
“Nut Job”—-what a horrible insensitive -yobbo red neck-nasty person minded – word. I mean how stigmatising is a word like that— beats most I reckon that one. its right up there with- nutter- lunatic-“mental” says so much about the person-type using it too.
commented 2016-06-08 22:00:13 -0400
It is a bit cruel to ridicule the very help that many readers here could use and that some depend on. I don’t think that matters does it- if their happy hey- so let me get this right- if they’re happy-those readers- that’s OK- but if someone isn’t and wants to express that- their not OK- and all the people who are happy with it- should be growling at those that aren’t- is that how it works…………….. You do realise over half the people aren’t happy don’t you? Ya know what – a lot of the people who also growl at the people trying to warn and save them from these disgusting abusive mind doctors – are the people with mind problems – that they think- they might need- a pseudo doctor for- somewhere into the future-so its their insecurities that cause them to fret- and growl – and I can dig that and understand and I sympathise with them- but when you type “psychiatry is” into google your going to see what the “other half” see and feel- and they’re real too- as is their reality- just like yours- just in case you didn’t know. Theirs is one of pain- are you denying them, Just like the doctors causing that pain by force poisoning them adversely for decades are denying their pain- their reported adverse effect.
commented 2016-06-06 09:06:09 -0400
Jay Kelly, supposing you represent the views of others and actually being nominated to do so are two widely divergent states. As for my view on this issue, and what I “encourage”, the article clearly spells it out. Thank you for your opinion.
commented 2016-06-06 01:54:37 -0400
Jay Kelly when the services are terrible it makes things harder, and the Bus beheader got a wing built for him and his victims mother has to pay for counseling , why is that?
commented 2016-06-06 00:17:43 -0400
Sam Sotiropoulos, yes, I suppose I speak for some of The Rebel readership in responding to your item. I hope that readers of your article feel comfortable to respond, and that they know they are not being criticized.

You are doing a good service with your submission to The Rebel.

Mental Health services matter to a lot of people, and you and I both want to encourage people to take advantage of the resources available.

Please keep up your good work.
commented 2016-06-05 23:34:28 -0400
Jay Kelly, are you in any way suggesting that you represent, or are somehow channeling, the notions of (any of) The Rebel’s readership aside from your own? Furthermore, do you mean to imply that because someone may have undergone psychiatric “treatment” they are somehow disqualified from or should be kept from questioning, commenting on, criticizing, reading about, or even defending such a regimen? Finally, do you have any trouble with people making up their own minds about matters such as those raised by my article?
commented 2016-06-05 23:14:04 -0400
Yes, Sam Sotiropoulos, The Rebel is unique in providing a forum where certain ideas and themes can be expressed freely. It is a genuine contribution to public dialogue and discussion.

I suspect it is irresponsible, though, that The Rebel posted your thoughts “as is”. You may have questions about psychiatry and psychiatric treatment which are well worth consideration.

But you should know that many on this site have availed themselves of mental health services. Nothing wrong with that, but we should take care no to discredit the very services that our readers may depend on.
commented 2016-06-05 22:57:11 -0400
I was wondering when the Censorship busybodies would begin appearing to comment. Now I can rest assured I must have hit bone with this buzzsaw. One of the marvellous things about The Rebel is that it is (likely) the last media outlet with a growing audience, AND the only one I know of in the Canadian context where the right to Freedom of Speech and Expression is still respected. Like or dislike my article, it is available for you, or anyone else, to comment on. I present the facts, the readers can make up their own minds. Isn’t Freedom wonderful?
commented 2016-06-05 22:48:18 -0400
It is probably irresponsible of The Rebel to carry a blog post like this by Sam Sotiropoulos. He is certainly not an expert on psychiatry or mental health, and he is neither a reporter nor a good writer.

But there is an additional danger here on The Rebel. We all know that this site is catered toward rather far-flung opinions and debates. This is a good thing in that it provides a forum for discussion that is not available in the conventional media.

Among the readers and commenters on this site — and here again this is no surprise and is often mentioned — are many who have suffered with mental afflictions and have felt the pain of trying to deal with that.

It is a bit cruel to ridicule the very help that many readers here could use and that some depend on.
commented 2016-06-05 22:38:44 -0400
@bill Elder A Science is a realm of knowledge in which Scientific Method is employed. Scientific conclusions are not arrived at by “consensus”. Psychiatry, is demonstrably not a Science. It is a pseudo-science, it has been provided with the trappings of scientific epistemology but it is actually no more or less a Science than shamanism.
commented 2016-06-05 22:28:55 -0400
“It should not surprise us that such a lucrative inprecise ans fallable ractice should be laden with hucksters, quacks and posers – ther in lies the prolem – if you should ever have to interface with these practitioners " caveat emptor’"

Good point, Bill. Unfortunately psychiatric patients don’t have the luxury of “caveat emptor” in Canada’s public health care system. There just aren’t enough qualified docs to go around, and they know it. That’s another facet of their complete lack of accountability. When a patient ends up with a quack, they’re looking at 6 months minimum wait for another doctor, and that’s if they can find one at all. Family doctors are reluctant to prescribe or manage psych meds, because unlike psychiatrists, they ARE accountable and can be sued. Six months is a long time to wait for another doctor to write you refills when you’ve been deliberately addicted to psych meds. The side effects of stopping most of those meds without doctor supervision can damage people for life, if not kill them. And the longer you’re on the meds, the worse your symptoms get if you stop or even cut back the dose.
commented 2016-06-05 20:47:41 -0400
Psychiatry is a science – an inprecise and fallible one but a science none the less. Where medicine is based in provable cellular pathology and diagnostics where as Psychiatry is based in anecdotal evidence and consensus speculation. It has helped many cope with mental distress but it has damaged many when the state uses it’s fallible conclusions as absolutes in law.

It should not surprise us that such a lucrative inprecise ans fallable ractice should be laden with hucksters, quacks and posers – ther in lies the prolem – if you should ever have to interface with these practitioners " caveat emptor’
commented 2016-06-05 14:22:10 -0400
My son studied psychiatry for three years, came to the conclusion it was bogus and overrun by young women who learned by rote and not cognitive ability. He didn’t want to pursue a profession that he knew was pseudo science and powered by drug pushers.
commented 2016-06-05 08:24:23 -0400
What bothers me, is that if shrinks appear in court, their word is taken as gospel. They play on sympathy for the perpetrator, not the victim and their families. Some of the most horrendous crimes committed, have been minimized and even dismissed because some “shrink” said that they didn’t mean it, and had a short term lapse in their thinking, because they didn’t take their meds. I’m thinking of that MB man, I think his name was Tim McKay (?) who lost his life on a bus trip from Edmonton to Winnipeg, when his seatmate cut off his head, and was allowed to terrorize a busload of people for hours. Even the police were gutless. They should have shot him dead, instead they allowed him to do whatever he wanted. He was an animal. And for the shrinks, the excuse was schizophrenia. So instead of keeping him locked up in a mental facility, because they can’t guarantee that he’ll stay on his meds, we’ve had to pay to have this guy babysat on outings, because he’s a human being. Meanwhile Tim’s family have had to fight this insult of a system. The human mind is not that well understood, and someone this unpredictable shouldn’t be allowed to roam around the world, like he’s one of us, when he really is a danger to society!
commented 2016-06-05 04:50:44 -0400
Your insults don’t bother me Sam and Patti. You’re both still out to lunch :)
commented 2016-06-05 01:54:41 -0400
Patti you got that right, my stepson took years to diagnose and many of these so called experts were off the mark , there are good ones out there , but they must have the right mindset.
commented 2016-06-05 01:44:10 -0400
Thanks to Sam Sotiropoulos for these comments.
commented 2016-06-04 21:18:01 -0400
@ Frost – another demonstration of your ignorance of the mental “health” industry. If you were a patient of psychiatrists, you’d know right away what quacks they are. They do absolutely nothing except diagnose (based on what Big Pharma reps tell them) and hand out prescriptions of psychotropic drugs which do permanent physical damage. And you call that “valuable work”? A psychiatrist sees a patient for as long as it takes to hand them a prescription slip, but bills the taxpayer for an hour’s work. Nice “work” if you can get it – but not too scientific. In fact, anyone who holds an MD is allowed to call themselves a psychiatrist and to prescribe medication to a mental health patient, at least in Ontario. “Valuable work”?

And if you think psychiatry is such a valid “science” you should ask yourself why people who need a sleeping pill or are in a long term care home are now being prescribed powerful antipsychotics like Abilify and even Quetiapine, off label of course. Ads for Abilify are on TV marketing it to the public now. Or why people with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s are being prescribed Zopiclone, a short term sleep aid which causes delusions, hallucinations and dangerous sleepwalking episodes. Normally this drug would be prescribed for no more than 2 weeks. These patients are getting it for 10 years in some cases.

Since they are completely immune from accountability much less prosecution, psychiatrists have neither reason nor incentive to actually care for their patients or what happens to them. And because public health in every province delists every alternative treatment for the mentally ill, they have no choice but to be exploited by psychiatrists and their Big Pharma benefactors. The big problem is that NOBODY is accountable for the way the mentally ill are treated. That is why cops can blow them away with impunity, and never suffer the same consequences as they would for gunning down any member of the public. That’s why hospitals and other facilities don’t have to provide them with basic, decent care – they aren’t accountable either. That’s why governments can’t be bothered to pass laws to protect the rights of the mentally ill, reimburse them at tax time for the obscene amounts of money they’re forced to spend on harmful drugs, or make sure that the mentally ill receive the same level of care and respect as other sick or disabled people. That is a clear violation of human rights, but it goes on with impunity in this country.

And your ignorant nonsense about “dopamine levels” just shows how little you know about the drugs being prescribed to the mentally ill, or what they do to a person’s mind and body over time. There’s a lot more to mental illness than “dopamine levels”. And “dopamine” isn’t tested by psychiatrists anyway. Other tests which should be done on a regular basis (thyroid tests for people taking lithium, for example) are routinely skipped, if they’re done at all. People are given powerful drugs (klozapine) and treatments (ECT or electro shock) which are supposed to be monitored in a hospital setting, but the patient is tossed out on the street anyway. Psychiatrists don’t care enough to order tests when they should be ordered, it would be too much “valuable work” for them to write up a requisition when they’re rushing patients through every two minutes.

Don’t accuse anyone else of “reaching” or knowing nothing on a subject when you haven’t the first clue about it yourself.
commented 2016-06-04 20:35:47 -0400
As I expected, no reasoned arguments from “Deacon Frost”, just personal attacks and accusations. It is easy to spout inanities when you use a pseudonym to post opinions without any reasoning whatsoever. Cowardly too. Psychiatry is not scientific and no amount of name-calling or foot-stamping is going to change that fact. To qualify as a Science, Scientific Method must be the hallmark of any realm of knowledge. otherwise it’s malarkey, or quackery if you prefer. Anyway, the fact that a “Deacon Frost” is posting comments anonymously immediately disqualifies him as a credible individual with integrity.

Come back with some facts, figures and a rational argument and I may engage in further discussion with you, whatever your real name may be, despite your gutless empty and unfounded pronouncements.

commented 2016-06-04 20:25:36 -0400
Patti, I reloaded the page and saw your whole post.

I think the issue about accountability is found in all areas of medicine.

It does not make cardiology any less valid, same goes for psychiatry.
commented 2016-06-04 20:23:21 -0400
Patti, you missed it. I support the work of psychiatrists, they do valuable work. My issue is with this poor article that tries to discredit this work based on one book and one study.

Sam, you’re foolish if you think psychiatry is not medical science.

You can measure dopamine levels, for example after courses of therapy and meds for example.

Bottom line is you’re reaching here. Big pharma? Come on man. Drugs have helped lots of folks who need help functioning – ie depression meds, etc

This is a poor article, and you clearly have an agenda against psychiatry, you may not like it but it’s hardly sham science.
commented 2016-06-04 20:05:03 -0400
As Yogi Berra said, “Anybody who would see a psychiatrist needs to get their head examined.” or words to that affect.
commented 2016-06-04 19:23:32 -0400
The only “nut-job writing” here is yours, Frost. The fact that you used the pejorative term “nut-job” about an article whose subject is treatment for the mentally ill, disqualifies your credibility in this (and I suspect any) discussion.

However, your attitude exemplifies the way the mentally ill are treated in this country. The attitude, like shit, flows downhill straight from the federal government. They create a generous tax break for the disabled, but the qualifications are written specifically to exclude the mentally ill who are too sick to work or manage their own affairs. They want to pass anti-IslamophoBS laws, but it’s ok to denigrate sick and disabled people and treat them far worse than any “hate crime” whiner is treated.

On the provincial level, treatments for the mentally ill are the first casualties whenever there are budget cuts. Governments corner the market for psychiatric quacks, by delisting every alternative treatment, especially talk therapy – knowing perfectly well that the vast majority of mentally ill are also poor. Provincial pharma care programs exclude many drugs used solely by the mentally ill, or they treat them as recreational drugs. Hospitals heap physical and psychological abuse on mentally ill people who are in crisis. That’s why many choose not to go for help when they need it. The psychiatrists are a law unto themselves, as described in the article. A typical psychiatric appointment consists of a patient entering the quack’s office, being handed a prescription slip, and leaving without being given a chance to discuss their symptoms. And these quacks are receiving lavish handouts from drug companies and the taxpayer, to do something a trained chimp could do. They destroy people’s health and lives, but are accountable to NOBODY for their actions. That in itself should be cause for any taxpayer’s concern.
commented 2016-06-04 17:36:12 -0400
If you read the article you must have missed the part about psychiatry not qualifying as Science as there is no true Scientific Method involved in the “practice”. The “treatment” of anecdotal states of mind, and any success rate in such “therapy” cannot be empirically established or verified. No Scientific Method? Not Science. The study and the book are added as reference points to underscore the overall conclusion. But, if you feel otherwise, produce an actual argument as opposed to your non-substantive, dismissive statements. I would be happy to engage in a true dialogue, bur if all you have is dismissive non-arguments, I’ll let you toot your horn as you like. After all, everyone has an opinion. Defending one’s opinions is another matter. Now, do you have a reasoned argument to present or not?
commented 2016-06-04 17:11:52 -0400
That quote still does not change the fact that you can hardly discredit it as a science thanks to 1 study and a book.
commented 2016-06-04 16:48:26 -0400
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” —Socrates
commented 2016-06-04 16:14:03 -0400
Clearly nothing.

This is bordering on nut-job writing.

Were they low on content today?
commented 2016-06-04 15:55:21 -0400
This explains why so many psychiatrists are sitting in mental heath facilities!! …AS PATIENTS!