The Washington Supreme Court ruling in the case of Volk v Demeerleer put another nail in the coffin of confidentiality and pushed us further down the road toward policing and even control of behavior by clinicians.
Tarasoff imposed a duty to protect identifiable intended victims of patients, but according to an “expert” witness for the plaintiff, J. Knoll from NY State, clinicians must subordinate their correct role to provide diagnosis and treatment to the fantasy that they can predict the future and prevent crimes with what qualifies as detective work.
In my opinion this ill-advised court decision risks dangerous unintended (I hope.) consequences:
- Attempts to control and police will interfere with optimal treatment.
- Clinicians will reject patients at risk of suicide or homicide.
- Patients will fail to disclose important information for fear of consequences.
- Potential patients will fail to seek treatment.
- Clinicians will have to inform patients of this new limit to confidentiality.
- An avalanche of potentially dangerous patients will overwhelm involuntary treatment resources.
If the judiciary would have clinicians control the behavior of patients they should issue us badges and guns.
I hope when this case goes back to trial the judge and jury in Spokane will have the good sense to find for the defendants, especially Dr. Ashby.