A psychiatrist in Pennsylvania was recently charged with writing prescriptions and taking patients while his medical license was suspended. Medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently investigating cases of injury or death from negligence physicians and dangerous drugs.
The psychiatrist, Jospindar Harika, will be prosecuted for Medicaid fraud and theft and be subject to a federal investigation. Dr. Harika was a contractor at three mental health clinics in Berks and Philadelphia counties, and saw hundreds of patients while his license was suspended in 2012.
He wrote over 450 prescriptions during that time, billing Medicaid about $60,000. The grand jury in his case stated that his psychiatric notes were illegible, did not provide adequate treatment for patients with substance abuse or traumatic histories, and overlapped session times in his Medicaid billings.
In 1997, Harika plead guilty to billing more than $84,000 to the Somerset State Hospital for services he never performed. He was convicted of the felony, serving four years of probation and fines. Then, in 2012, Harika was charged with failing to pay child support in a divorce and custody case, resulting in about one month of medical license suspension. It was during that time, in March 2012, that he illegally saw and prescribed psychiatric patients.
Psychiatrists are responsible for prescribing and monitoring pharmaceuticals that are often incredibly powerful and quite dangerous. Because they are responsible for diagnosing and treating serious mental disorders, malpractice and negligence can be difficult to pinpoint.
Medical malpractice lawsuits, regardless of the discipline, must involve serious harm done to the patient, not just a feeling of being wronged or unfairly treated. Generally, successful malpractice claims must have four elements:
1. There was a confirmed doctor-patient relationship.
2. The doctor failed to provide reasonable care to the patient. All doctors have a duty to provide the best, most practice medical care they are able.
3. Serious harm must have occurred. This can include physical injuries such as fractured bones or developed health conditions, or devastating emotional injury.
4. A link between the doctor’s negligence and the patient’s injury. In legal terms this is called “proximate cause,” and is often the most difficult to prove. Particularly in complex psychiatric cases, there may be many intervening factors that would influence the injury or doctor’s duty of reasonable care. Cases of suicide, for example, can be difficult to prove on these grounds.
Since cases of medical malpractice are so unique and depend entirely on specific circumstances, it is best to get in contact with a malpractice attorney as soon as you are able. A large amount of psychiatric malpractice cases center on the negligent prescription or improper monitoring of prescription medications.
Antipsychotic drugs, like Seroquel or Haldol, should never be prescribed to elderly patients with dementia, for example. Far too often, residents in nursing homes with Alzheimer’s or dementia are given antipsychotic drugs to help with agitation or to relieve overworked staff. This is illegal and extraordinarily dangerous, as antipsychotics can cause premature death in dementia patients. Giving residents medications to subdue them is a disturbing practice called “chemical restraint,” and should always be brought to the attention of a lawyer.
Our team of medical malpractice attorneys has been working on these types of cases for over 30 years. We have a wide network of legal and medical professionals that allows us to take on clients across the country. If you have any questions about medical malpractice, dangerous drugs, or chemical restraint, contact our firm for a free legal consultation.