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Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría

Print version ISSN 0034-7450


JIMENEZ R, Gloria Mercedes. Professional Liability in Psychiatry. Corporate Group of the Colombian Society of Anesthesia and Resuscitation (Scare) and the Special Fund for Solidary Aid in Lawsuits (Fepasde), 1999-2006. rev.colomb.psiquiatr. [online]. 2007, vol.36, n.2, pp.194-212. ISSN 0034-7450.

Background: Literature regarding professional liability in psychiatry is scarce in Colombia. Therefore analyzing cases of physicians, members of Fepasde, who have been sued and reviewing related concepts contribute to enhance medical practice and prepare psychiatrists to withstand eventual lawsuits. Methods: Descriptive analysis of the cases of liability involving psychiatrists presented to Scare-Fepasde in Colombia, between 1999- 2006. Results: 12 psychiatrists sued and a total of 18 legal processes were found, mostly involving ethic and disciplinary charges. Motives were similar to those found in the literature, the most frequent being supposed anti-ethical conduct and motives unrelated to patient care. Besides these, two cases were found involving complications of treatment with antipsychotics, one involving a failure in security and one involving suicide. Conclusions: According to the medical literature, factors acting upon psychiatrists’ liability have to do with the complexities of mental illness and its differences with physical illness and to particularities of the doctor-patient relationship, given the vulnerability of the latter in regard to the therapist. This underscores the importance of the history as proof of good medical practice. Obtaining informed consent is an integral part of the medical act and must conform to the lex artis and to ethical principles.

Keywords : Psychiatry; legal liability; ethics.

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