Psychiatrists Are Unique - Professional Risk Management Services

Psychiatrists Are Unique

You probably already knew that, but now there’s new confirmation. I’m referring to the Medscape 2013 Ethics Report, Ethics in Medicine – What Makes Psychiatrists Unique? (free site registration required), published March 13, 2013. Of the 24,000 physicians who participated in the survey, 1600 were psychiatrists. The report notes that the psychiatrists’ answers to eight questions in the survey differed materially ( 5%) from their colleagues’ in other specialties.

For example 88% of psychiatrists said that it was never acceptable to become romantically or sexually involved with a patient, versus 68% of non-psychiatrists. This is excellent news to those of us in the world of psychiatrists’ professional liability insurance.  We are concerned, however, about the 6% of psychiatrists who answered “it depends,” and the 5% who said “yes, if it’s been at least 6 months since the doctor-patient relationship ended,” and the 0.5% who answered, “yes, even if a current patient.”

Another question concerned physician-assisted suicides – 52% of psychiatrists (versus 47% of other specialists) believe that this should be allowed in some situations. This disparity is thought-provoking, given that so many psychiatrists spend so much of their time helping their suicidal patients stay alive.

I would urge you to check out the short presentation. How would you have answered these questions? Are you up to date on your states’ laws regarding sexual relationships with patients? Did you know that a number of states have criminalized such behavior?  Does your professional liability insurance policy contain related exclusions?


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