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Unread October 7th, 2009, 10:22 AM
William Reid William Reid is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 105
Default Re: Abuse of curbside consultation

I wonder whether or not it was advisable to "describe the question posed by the attorney . . . above" to a colleague in the doctor's lounge, particularly if you knew the lawyer was from the same community as the doctor. Based on what you wrote, I don't see anything wrong with the doctor's query (he appears not to have been the one who revealed potentially-sensitive information, though I have almost no information about that). I'm a bit concerned about what you may have told him.

Second, is it possible that the doctor didn't know of your involvement and was merely trying to locate someone to whom he could refer the lawyer? And thus might logically offer your name to the attorney as a potential expert and let the lawyer take it from there? If so, then it would seem to be a reasonable effort to help his patient (and not "potentially interfering with the legal process"). (Note that we psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are -- and should be -- cautious about getting involved in patients' lives outside the treatment; however, other kinds of physicians can often do so without those dreaded "countertransference" and "treatment contamination" issues.)

I don't see, in what you wrote, any evidence of "deception," except for your thought that he might have known you were involved in the case. That may or may not be true, which is another reason to be careful about discussing cases -- even without names -- with colleagues.

Finally, I don't agree that a doctor's lounge should somehow be defined as a good place to "speak freely . . . about cases" like this. If two clinicians have a genuine clinical or educational reason to discuss a case (clinical or forensic, while considering confidentiality), that's fine, but I'm not sure what went on here, and I don't see a significant difference between the doctor's lounge and any other setting with regard to "speaking freely."

Maybe some clarification or additional information would help frame the issue for comment (but please don't be too verbose: we aren't going to solve the problems of the universe here -- not this week, at least ).

WHR
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