Medical liability claims and lawsuits filed against the University of Texas System
involving adult psychiatric patients.
K. D. Wagner, R. Pollard, R. F. Wagner, Jr. and M. D. Shifren,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
22(3): 459-69, 1994.
A survey was conducted to investigate medical liability claims filed against the University of Texas
System (the U.T. System), physicians, and/or institutions concerning care of adult psychiatric
patients. There were 34 such claims filed between 1978 and 1991 that had closed by December 1991.
In many of these cases, medical record documentation was determined to be inadequate. Of the 34
claims filed, only seven were settled on behalf of U.T. personnel or U.T. institutions. Of these seven
settlements, the mean monetary amount paid per case on behalf of U.T. System and non-U.T. System
parties was $98,678.57. The two categories with the largest number of claims were 1) cases
involving suicides, and 2) cases involving adverse reactions to medication. The largest award was
$350,000, paid on behalf of U.T. physicians, a private physician, and non-U.T. institutions for
alleged negligent failure to diagnose Cushing's disease. Of this amount, only $150,000 was paid on
behalf of U.T. physicians. Risk management strategies should be implemented to address areas of
liability in psychiatry residency programs.