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Bill, LCSW, Consultant, Expert Witness
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3706
Experience:  35 years treating individuals, couples, families with mental health and substance abuse prob's
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I have a complex problem, and Ill try to summarize it as best

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I have a complex problem, and I'll try to summarize it as best I can.

My 20 year old daughter (who has NEVER had any "issues of any kind) had 4 wisdom teeth pulled. 2 days later she went back to college in Wisconsin, along with her prescription Vikodin & Motrin. Unbeknownst to us, she developed insomnia, and was not eating because of the extractions. About 10 days later, we got a call that she was having a "breakdown" so we went to the school.

We were advised to take her to the local hospital for evaluation, because she was obviously not herself. She told us she hadn't slept since the extraction, and was having visions, hearing voices, etc. At the hospital we were told that it would be best to admit her for observation, which we of course agreed to. It wasn't until we went to her "room" that we realized that she had been placed in the mental ward.

The psychiatrist interviewed her the first day, (while she was in a drugged stupor) and decided that she was bi-polar, and psychotic! When I reminded him about the insomnia, and the vicodin which has the exact side effects she was presenting with, he ignored it. So over the next 7 days, she was subjected to the most horrendously powerful psychotic meds, which did not seem to do much to improve her condition, if anything making it worse!

After 7 days she was stable, and insisted on leaving (which we supported). However, while agreeing to discharge her, the Psychiatrist wrote on the report that it was against his advice! (This of course caused the school to not allow her back to class.)

The first night home, she took her lithium, which again caused her to have visions, etc. during the night. When she calmed down she said that this had happened to her ever time she had been given this drug, and she never wanted to take it again. She never did, and during the next week or so, completely recovered!

We had already had an appointment set up with a therapist which we kept, and explained all that had occured. The therapist agreed that in all probability she had been been suffering from sleep deprivation, and lack of food intake. She managed to get us in to see a psychiatrist in her group on an emergency basis, who concluded that she is neither psychotic, nor a danger to anyone. Based on his letter, she has been readmitted to the school.

I had already contacted 2 law firms, and after reviewing all of the info, concluded that we had a good case for malpractice, but the cost would exceed the ultimate award, so there is no point in suing. However, it is not and never was about the money!

Because of a misdiagnoses and admission to a mental health ward, she is now saddled with this stigma for the rest of her life! If ever asked, about being treated for a mental condition, she would technically have to answer yes, (or lie) although it was not really the case. This may affect her future career, job opportunities, jury duty, ability to obtain health or life insurance, etc, etc.

I'm not sure if the medical records can be modified to show that it was a mistake, and if so how is this done? The psychiatrist is not going to be cooperative about this. Can the entire record be totally expunged at the hospital? The school? The health insurance company obviously now has this in their records, which could also cause problems for her in the future. Can anything be done about that?

Any suggestions as to how to correct this situation would be greatly appreciated.

Bill :

Hello- Thank you for asking the question. I have over 30 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families & am happy to reply.

Bill :

I am sorry to hear about this situation and hope that you daughter is feeling better.

Bill :

I have been on staff and many Psychiatric Facilities in both the private and public sector.

Bill :

In a situation like this, I suggest that you make direct contact with the Administrator of the Facility and lodge a formal complaint.

Bill :

This is how you get the ball rolling and if respond to me with the name and location of the facility, I will be happy to identify the proper Administrative Personnel and also any regulatory agencies that you may wish to report this to.

Bill :

Medical records (particularly for patients treated in Psychiatric Facilities) are protected from disclosure as regulated by Federal Law.

Bill :

Detail on this is provided here:

Bill :

Records are the property of the Facility and although I understand your desire to have them expunged, I frankly do not think this will ever be possible. Again, unless your Daughter (an adult) authorized their release- it is unlikely that anyone would ever have access to them.

Bill :

I think the best approach is to have this investigated administratively and allow the administrative and peer review process to help you feel better about this situation.

Bill :

Again- I am happy to identify appropriate personnel to contact if you respond with the Name and Location of the facility .

Bill :

I look forward to helping you with this.

Bill :

Kindest regards, Bill

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So the single bit of advice is to complain to the hospital administration? Yea sure, like they are going to admit a screw-up .


What about all of the other concerns I had mentioned? Should I get another psychiatrist to certify that she is NOT bi-polar, etc. ? Should I contact the insurance company and complain? What must I do so that she can truthfully say "no" to the question about ever having been treated in a mental health ward?

With all due respect......I have extensive experience addressing issues like this. You can get second opinions and all can yield different results. You will not get anywhere with a second opinion. Getting administrators involved is the best way to get not only administrative involvement but also peer review process will provide for additional Expert opinions without you having to spend money. Complaint review process is taken very seriously and is the best approach in this type of process.


Also, keep in mind that All facilities have State and Federal Oversight so that a there are checks and balances. State Boards of Medicine also investigate complaints such as you describe.


You will not be able to reverse the fact that this is recorded in medical records. I know of no current situation where one would be required to disclose that they have been treated in a mental health facility.


Again, this reality is protected by Federal law. Kind regards, Bill

Bill and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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