Mental Health Counselor Misjudgment Caused Me Financial Harm

5 posts in this topic

I am wondering what the very specific Minnesota law is that governs a mental health worker's right or responsibility to send a patient to a hospital emergency department for evaluation around suicidal ideation (and in this case lack of suicidal ideation), specifically, an adolescent in the care of their parent when their parent.


My complaint is about a licensed psychologist, L.P., Ph.D., at a clinic near me in a Minneapolis suburb in Minnesota.  My daughter and I met with her on October 27, 2016, to enroll my daughter into their adolescent outpatient treatment program.  Due to the financial damage that I suffered because of the provider's poor judgment and misinterpretation of my daughter's mood that morning, I would like to file a conciliation court case against the clinic pay our ambulance bill, emergency department bill, emergency department psychological assessment bill, emergency department laboratory bill, and all other bills associated with that morning's visit and am wondering what the law is around this matter.  I suffer damage in the amount of $3,816.50.


On October 25, 2016, my daughter was named in an investigation of students in her new school, where she hardly knew anyone, as having bought prescription drugs from another student.  My daughter denied having done so.  A search was conducted of her vehicle in the parking lot.  Several classrooms in the school having windows facing that parking lot, and, apparently, many students watched while the police searched my daughter’s car.  My daughter was horrified and embarrassed.  She already suffers from depression and ADHD.  She is shy and quiet and had not yet made friends at her new school.  She came home in complete distress stating that she wanted to kill herself.  She appeared to me to be in a state of shock.  I called our County Crisis Center and brought my daughter to meet with a psychologist for an assessment. 


After assessing her, the County Crisis psychologist told me to take her to the ER.  While we were en route to the ER, my daughter stated to me that she felt better and did not feel she needed to go to the ER.  I called the Crisis Center psychologist to let her know that and that I would stay with her.  She lived at my ex-husband’s at the time.  She is now living back home with me.  I stayed with her and slept in her bed with her that night, October 25, and the following night, October 26.  We spent the entire day of October 26 and that night together during which time she was able to process what had happened at school and talk about it.  During the course of that time, her mood improved significantly.  She was not suicidal.  She talked, laughed and enjoyed our time together.  Also during that time, I was in contact with the County Crisis Center, who called regularly to check up on my daughter and to give me advice, support, and instructions.  I kept them updated on her progress.  They suggested that I enroll her into an adolescent mental health/chemical dependency program, and they suggested some mental health clinics we could try.  I chose this particular clinic because they were in-network with our insurance company and because they offered the group program within a few miles of our home.


We scheduled our appointment at the clinic for October 27, 2016, at 7:00 a.m.  My daughter is not a morning person, which I knew, but I needed to work that day, and so I scheduled an early morning appointment for her assessment to get her enrolled into the program.

It was hard to get my daughter to wake up that early to go to the appointment, and she was very upset with me for making her get up so early.  On the way to the appointment, she informed me that she was tired and mad at me and would not talk during the appointment.  I told her that is fine as long as she fills out all the assessment paperwork.  She said she would fill out the papers but that she would not talk.


Once we got into the psychologist's office, the psychologist proceeded to ask my daughter if she felt like she wanted to hurt herself and if she had suicidal ideations.  I explained to the psychologist that my daughter is not a morning person, that she told me she will not talk but that she will fill out the assessment papers, and that she is moody and stubborn, which she is often and has been throughout her entire life.  The psychologist just kept pushing for an answer to her question about suicidal ideation and would not let up until she got an answer.  She did not care about what I as her mother had to say and ignored me. It seemed to me that she does not have experience with or know how to relate with teenagers, stubborn teenagers, moody teenagers, or teenage girls.  She did not recognize that my daughter is a stubborn teenage girl who was feeling down due to a recent difficult incident at school.  Her tone and tenor suggested impatience and judgment and was not one that my daughter would open up to even if she was in a good mood. The psychologist did not utilize any psychotherapeutic techniques such as active listening, rephrasing, or normalizing in an attempt to get my daughter to open up.  Thus, my daughter did not utter one word while in the psychologist's presence.


After only approximately fifteen minutes, the psychologist stated that she was going to send my daughter to the hospital emergency department.  She called an ambulance and the police.  I told her again that my daughter is in a bad mood because it is morning and that she had stated she was not going to talk to her.  I pleaded with my daughter to answer the question.  My daughter is stubborn and would not speak.  It seemed completely outrageous and unwarranted for the psychologist to jump to such a conclusion knowing what she knew from what I had told her and knowing that I had spent the past two days and nights with my daughter.


The ambulance and police came and took my daughter against my will and against my explicit instructions not to.  One of the two police officers put her hands on my shoulders and guided me away from the situation so the EMT personnel could strap my daughter onto a gurney and bring her to the ambulance.


At the hospital, my daughter was evaluated by both the M.D. and the ER's licensed social worker, LICSW, before I even arrived.  Once I arrived, which was approximately a half hour after my daughter arrived by ambulance, the emergency department personnel had already evaluated her. The social worker met with me and told me that my daughter was still feeling traumatized by the event at school but that she was in no danger of hurting herself and that they had already started the discharge papers.  (I cannot remember the exact words she used.  It wasn't traumatized.  That is my word.)  She stated (again not exact words) that it had been unnecessary to have her sent to the hospital emergency room.


I have suffered financial damage due to the psychologist's poor judgment and lack of ability to appropriately assess the situation.  I know she used poor judgment because less than an hour after she saw my daughter, the emergency department personnel assessed that my daughter was in no danger of hurting herself and that she did not have suicidal ideations.  The psychologist made a mistake, and as a professional, she should pay for her mistake because her misjudgment and lack of assessing the entire situation and taking into account my statements that morning caused damage to me in the amount of $3,816.50 in medical costs.  The psychologist and her clinic should be held liable to cover all costs related to my daughter’s ambulance trip to the Emergency Department along with the ambulance costs, the laboratory costs, and any and all related costs.


I have contacted the clinic and have spoken with their office manager to ask them to pay the bills from that day.  She forwarded my claim to their risk management department, who has told me they refuse to pay.  The risk manager told me that the psychologist's notes from that day indicate that my daughter stated that she has suicidal ideations.  I stated to the risk manager that my daughter did not utter a word to the psychologist that day, and so if that is in her notes, she made it up and put it in her notes to protect herself for her rash decision to send my daughter to the hospital emergency room. 


I was financially damaged, and the psychologist's mistake and her clinic are the cause of it, and they need to make it right.   I am asking for them to pay my out-of-pocket costs for the ambulance bill and the medical bills incurred from that day.

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31 minutes ago, LM_EP said:

I am wondering what the very specific Minnesota law is that governs a mental health worker's right or responsibility to send a patient to a hospital emergency department for evaluation around suicidal ideation (and in this case lack of suicidal ideation), specifically, an adolescent in the care of their parent when their parent.


This appears to be the only "question" in your post, but the end of the sentence trails off and doesn't make any sense.  I'm also not sure what you mean by "very specific . . . law."


You're post is really long, and I suggest you condense it down into a paragraph or two and be more clear about what you want to know.

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You aren't suffering financially because of a lack of professionalism by the therapist. You are suffering the financial repercussions from your daughter's refusal to answer a simple question. The proper thing to do was exactly what happened. That your daughter finally decided to cooperate with a mental health professional in the ER does not mean the first one did anything wrong. When dealing with a suicidal kid, it is much better to be safe than sorry. You can not speak for her and it would be irresponsible for the therapist to take the word of someone other than the patient. For all the therapist knows, the parent is the reason the kid won't open up, or has been threatened not to say anything. The appointment was made because od suicidal ideation, so of course that would be in her notes. Be glad your child is safe.

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