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Some Suggestions to Psychiatrists for Avoiding Legal Jeopardy

Donald J. Dawidoff, LLB
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(5):699-701. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200050104018.
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In the practice of psychiatry numerous legal risks may be encountered, some of which may be minimized by keeping written notes of the procedure undertaken. The most common risk is civil malpractice, a suit which may be instituted by paranoid patients.

In drug therapy it is helpful to enlist the aid of someone living with the patient to ensure that drugs are taken regularly, in proper dosage, and that none is hoarded. Guarding against wrongful commitment allegations means satisfying good faith reservations before certification. Undue influence may be avoided by discouraging overweaning patient dependency. Criminal liability, though infrequent, must be guarded against by avoiding physical familiarity with patients.

Protection in all cases may be secured by assurance that suggestions are not taken as prescriptions and by consulting an attorney where questions arise.


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