Virginia – Psychiatry – Adjusting Lithium Dosage Based Only On Patient Symptoms

A psychiatrist increased and decrease a patient’s lithium dosage based on the patient’s symptoms.  She did not test the patient’s lithium blood serum level.

On 8/28/2015, the patient was admitted to a hospital for lithium toxicity.  The psychiatrist stated that lithium blood serum levels for long-term lithium patients should be tested at least annually, but also at any time a patient complains of adverse side effects.  The psychiatrist admitted her failure to test the patient’s lithium levels and stated that it “was an inadvertent oversight for which [she] is remorseful.”  The psychiatrist reported that following the patient’s hospitalization for lithium toxicity, she reviewed the charts for her other patients on lithium and determined if they needed testing for lithium blood serum levels.

She provided evidence that she completed 99 hours of CME in psychiatry in 2015 and 58 credit hours of CME in psychiatry in 2017.  She provided a spreadsheet that she created for use in monitoring her patients on lithium.  She was reprimanded by the Virginia Board of Medicine.

State: Virginia

Date: October 2017

Specialty: Psychiatry

Symptom: N/A

Diagnosis: Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal, Psychiatric Disorder

Medical Error: Improper medication management, Failure to properly monitor patient

Significant Outcome: N/A

Case Rating: 2

Link to Original Case File: Download PDF

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