Psychologists and psychiatrists have a huge role in society and study human behavior and help others deal with mental health issues that interfere with life in many ways. Because of the important role of these professionals and the delicate nature of their job duties, they are held to a very high standard. These professionals are expected to act with professionalism and according to a code of ethics, laws, and regulations. In order to maintain a professional license in these fields, licensees must comply with ethics and professionalism in order to continue their practice.
Psychologists and psychiatrists must comply with a code of ethics in order to stay away from the risk of disciplinary actions. Generally, this code of ethics involves non maleficence, responsibility, integrity, respect for human rights, and dignity. Even if a psychologist or psychiatrist does not intentionally do anything wrong, they could still face disciplinary action for incompetence and negligence.
The first step in the process of disciplinary action is often some sort of letter of caution, or a warning from the Board when there are violations of ethical principles or regulations. In more severe situations, formal complaints, criminal conduct, or subsequent ethical violations, there is generally an investigation and the licensee is notified of the allegations made against them.
Although there are often several steps that must take place before a licensee can lose their license, there is a chance of automatic license suspension if the Board feels that the public is at risk if the licensee continues to practice. If there is an indication that the licensee can cause patients physical or emotional harm, the Board will suspend the license. After this happens, there is generally a time limit in which a hearing must be set up. In cases of automatic suspension, an unfavorable hearing decision could result in continued suspension or revocation of the license.
Forms of Misconduct
One of the biggest precautions that psychologists and psychiatrists must be aware of is protecting patient confidentiality. Confidentiality is not only expected but it is a major reason for why people see psychologists and psychiatrists for counseling.
There are very limited situations in which the confidentiality of patients can be broken. First, when the counselor feels that the patient is at risk of injuring themselves or others. Second, when the client is vulnerable and cannot protect themselves, such as children and elderly people in harmful or abusive environments. Third, when revealing the information is necessary to obtain payment. Lastly, when the disclosure of confidential information is required by the law. Besides these situations, it is a violation to reveal confidential information of patients.
Other typical forms of misconduct among these professionals could include fraud or dishonesty relating to the duties and responsibilities of the profession, sexual abuse or misconduct, fraudulent claims to insurance companies, and misrepresentation.
If you are a psychologist or psychiatrist and you feel that your professional license is in jeopardy, it is important to get the help you need through this process. Call our office to speak with an attorney who can advise you on how to move forward.