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.