Is liability possible for forensic psychiatrists?

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


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.

MeSH terms

  • Forensic Psychiatry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Liability / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Liability, Legal*
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • United States