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The Mental Health Practitioner and the Law

The Mental Health Practitioner and the Law

A Comprehensive Handbook

Edited by Lawrence E. Lifson, M.D. and Robert I. Simon, M.D.

ISBN 9780674697218

Publication date: 05/17/1998

"Could I be sued?" The exploding number of malpractice lawsuits in recent years has brought this question to the mind of every clinician---the conscientious as well as the negligent.

A unique and practical guide to clinical risk management, this book combines the expertise of mental health professionals, judges, attorneys, and insurance industry experts, to help the clinician provide effective treatment while reducing the risk of legal liability. Wide-ranging, clinically based, and up to date, it will be a welcome guide for medical and surgical practitioners as well.

The first section gives clinicians a working knowledge of legal regulation in psychiatry and medicine, covering informed consent, documentation of patient care, and potential conflicts of interest. The second section identifies high-risk areas for lawsuits, including managing suicidal and violent patients, boundary violations, supervision issues, prescription of medications, liability in managed care settings, and treatment termination. The book concludes with a primer on clinical testimony in the courtroom.

The broad range of distinguished contributors to this volume will provide a survival guide to clinicians in the increasingly complex and rapidly changing world of health care.


  • This is a book that is must reading for all clinicians who wish to practice in the ever changing world of managed care and increasing litigation, and who wish to provide optimal care for their patients while remaining relatively risk free… The point is well made that provision of high-level care for the patient will be the best protection for the clinician.

    —Robert L. Sadoff, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine


  • Lawrence E. Lifson, M.D., is a Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Continuing Education Program in the HMS Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center. He is the editor of Understanding Therapeutic Action.
  • Robert I. Simon is Director of the Program in Psychiatry and Law and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and is the author of Clinical Psychiatry and the Law and editor of the Review of Clinical Psychiatry and the Law.

Book Details

  • 116 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press