Boards Rely on Forensic Psychiatry Evaluation. (Hearings on Physician Misconduct)

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- Forensic psychiatrists can play a crucial role in medical board hearings for physicians accused of sexual misconduct, Dr. Thomas Dodson said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

Credentialing and disciplinary agencies have a need for independent information regarding the mental condition of these physicians, and forensic psychiatrists are uniquely qualified to supply it in a most serviceable form, said Dr. Dodson, a psychiatrist in private practice in Portland, Ore.

Accurate diagnosis may be crucial in helping boards make decisions about whether, and under what conditions, these physicians can continue to practice, he said.

The incidence of cases involving alleged physician sexual misconduct has increased in recent years. In that these offenses are harmful to the patient and a danger to the medical profession, "the involvement of forensic psychiatrists [in such cases] represents a real public service," he said.

In a survey of sexual misconduct cases for 1989-1996, 40% of physicians disciplined were allowed to continue practicing medicine, often with safeguards (the presence of a chaperone during examination, or independent monitoring of their records).

In making such determinations, medical boards often gather information about the physician's mental condition and prognosis from psychiatrists and other treating therapists; but such material may not be objective given the therapeutic relationship. …


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