Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Psychiatrist and Psychologist Not Liable for Traffic Accident That Occurred When Patient Fell Asleep While Driving after Taking Prescription Medication

Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Psychiatrist and Psychologist Not Liable for Traffic Accident That Occurred When Patient Fell Asleep While Driving after Taking Prescription Medication

Article excerpt

In 1997, a registered nurse fell asleep at the wheel and struck another vehicle head on, killing the driver of that vehicle. Initially, a wrongful death action was brought against the nurse.

However, during a deposition the nurse disclosed that she was being treated at the time of the accident by a psychiatrist and a psychologist and had been prescribed medication that caused her to fall asleep during the day. It was also discovered that the psychologist had followed the nurse's vehicle in her own vehicle to determine the nurse's ability to drive and had concluded the nurse could not keep her vehicle within recognized lanes of traffic. A wrongful death action was then filed that targeted the psychiatrist and psychologist, claiming they had breached their duty of care in failing to warn the nurse not to operate a vehicle after taking her prescribed medication.

The Appellate Court of Connecticut ruled that the defendants were not liable for the accident. …

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