Adequate Medical Treatment

Health care providers, whether they are public health care providers - such as the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, or private health care providers- such as the Institute of Living, have the duty to provide adequate medical treatment. Adequate medical treatment is treatment that comports with accepted prevailing community standards of medical treatment or what is commonly referred to as "standards of care."

There are specific standards of care for the treatment of specific conditions. For example, the standard of care for schizophrenia is different than the standard of care for depression. One must find out what the standard of care is for their condition or conditions in order to know if he or she is receiving adequate medical treatment.

It is sometimes difficult for non-medical professionals to find the standard of care for particular medical conditions. The best sources of standards of care are relevant medical literature. Most medical resources are hard for non-medical personnel to either locate or understand. However there is a lot of medical information available on the internet at web sites such as Web M.D. Likewise, some resources that provide standards of care are readily available at most libraries and book stores, e.g. The Merck Manual Medical Library, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Further, some licensing and regulatory agencies such as the state Department of Public Health and the federal Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and accrediting organizations such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations provide standards of care for some health care services.

The United States Department of Justice does not create standards of care however under the authority of specific laws such as the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act it can investigate whether or not a health care provider is delivering services that comport with the relevant standards of care. It may be helpful to review the findings of DOJ investigations in order to learn about relevant standards of care for psychiatric hospitals.