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Identifying the standard of care in malpractice cases involving counseling professionals

Last time, we began looking at a malpractice case filed by a Michigan couple against a therapist who dropped the ball in caring for their daughter. Sources don’t specifically name the allegations, but do say the girl died from an overdose of an antidepressant medication.

Each area of health care involves its own risks, and health care providers in each respective area are expected to be aware of the standard procedures for handling patients, the risks involved in alternative courses of care, and to follow the minimum standard of care in responding to circumstances that arise. In medical malpractice litigation, plaintiffs can hold a provider liable for failing to exercise the minimum standard of care.  

In any medical malpractice case, defining the standard of care is of critical importance for the plaintiff to achieving a favorable outcome. It is not always an easy task to clearly define the standard of care, particularly in the counseling profession where there are a variety of approaches to caring for patients.

Different states have different approaches when it comes to standard of care, and there are a variety of sources of standards of care in the counseling profession. These sources include state statutes, regulations issued by state licensing boards, case law, professional association ethical codes, and even professional consensus. Standards of care based on ethics codes and professional consensus can be national in scope, applying to counseling professionals in every state, though consensus can also apply only locally.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, and why it is important for those who have been harmed by a negligent counselor to work with an experienced malpractice attorney to protect their rights.  

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