Oftentimes, when psychologists end up in ethical predicaments, it is due to a misunderstanding, or ignorance on the part of psychologists as to how easily the situation at hand could spiral out of control. Many problems they face are what the APA’s Ethics Committee member Anne Hess, Ph.D. calls “stealth” dilemmas. She means they are situations that develop gradually, moving step by step beyond professional boundaries. Although each step may have seemed harmless at the time, many practitioners later realize that they have landed themselves in trouble. Unfortunately, these types of situations increase their legal risks. Here are some tips on how psychologists can reduce their professional liability risks.
Understanding what constitutes multiple relationships. According to the Ethics Code, psychologists should avoid relationships that could reasonably impair their professional performance, or could exploit or harm the other party. So let’s say you have a client who is also a parent at your child’s school. This may not necessarily develop into an inappropriate or unethical multiple relationships. However, if you were to engage in intimate relationships with that said person, it would.
Protect your confidentiality. Psychologists are often asked to provide information about their clients to employers, spouses, school administrators, insurance companies, and others. While such requests may be well-intentioned, you need to carefully balance the disclosure with your ethical obligations to protect your patients’ confidentiality.
Always document accurately. Documentation can be your best ally if you ever face ethical charges, according to Ed Nottingham, Ph.D. an associate member of APA’s Ethics Committee. Lack of documentation, or even having the wrong documentation, can be detrimental.
These are just a few ways that psychologists can reduce their professional liability risks. It’s also important to respect people’s autonomy, practice only where you have expertise, and know the difference between patient abandonment and termination. Of course, some ethical issues are unavoidable no matter how hard you try. In this case, it’s important to make sure that you carry Orlando Professional Liability Insurance for Psychologists.
At Newman Crane, we provide coverage for claims made against a number of professionals as a result of a negligent act, error, or omissions in the performance of professional services. For more information about these coverages as well as our other Orlando Commercial Insurance products, please contact us at (407) 859-3691.