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WA Legislation to Counter Volk Decision

03/02/2017

Senator Baumgartner in the State of Washington has introduced legislation to limit liability of psychiatric providers when their patients harm others, apparently a response to the unfortunate state supreme court decision in Volk:

“(3) The duty to warn or take reasonable precautions to provide protection from a patient's violent behavior is discharged by the mental health professional or the individual health care provider providing mental health services to the patient if reasonable efforts are made to communicate the threat to the reasonably identifiable victim or victims and to law enforcement personnel.

“(4) A mental health professional or an individual health care provider providing mental health services to a patient is not liable for civil damages for failing to predict, warn of, or take reasonable precautions to provide protections from a patient's violent behavior unless the patient has communicated to the mental health professional or the individual health care provider providing mental health services to the patient an actual threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims and the mental health professional or the individual health care provider providing mental health services to the patient has failed to take reasonable precautions to provide protection to the reasonably identifiable victim or victims by communicating the threat as provided in this section or taking other reasonable measures, which may include reasonable attempts to hospitalize the patient voluntarily.”

I hope other states will pass similar legislation.