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Bull Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1995;23(2):183-93.

Is liability possible for forensic psychiatrists?

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West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center, CA 90073, USA.


Forensic psychiatrists are not as vulnerable to liability as general psychiatrists. The absence of a traditional physician-patient relationship and judicial and quasijudicial immunity are all protective against malpractice actions. Although the absence of a doctor-patient relationship removes an essential element of malpractice, other types of liability such as defamation and ordinary negligence are possible and may not be covered by malpractice insurance. A model is proposed for forensic psychiatry of a partial secondary doctor-patient relationship out-weighted in most circumstances by duties to truth and/or the hiring attorney. Such a model seems most consistent with conflicting duties currently forced on all psychiatrists. This model has advantages of a duty, a violation of which is likely to be covered by malpractice insurance. Rather than deemphasizing partial secondary physician-patient responsibilities, it is advised to stress the important protection provided by judicial and quasijudicial immunity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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