Risk Assessment/ Risk Management

These are terms that should become buzz words, near and dear to the hearts of practicing psychologists.
I have championed and will continue to champion training efforts, workshops, seminars, discussions, and publications that keep us all informed, and as much as can be reasonably expected, “risk free”, or, in legalese, meeting the standard, “what would a prudent psychologist have done in a similar situation?”
This “art form” is not cast in stone and is constantly evolving.
We face ever increasingly complex changes in the health care industry.
The conference on October 6, 2013 at John Jay, Hot Topics in Ethics and Risk Management in Psychological Practice, sponsored by NYSPA and APAIT, was well-attended and provided 6 hours of well rounded exposure to many areas we are likely to encounter in our professional work.
Briefly, some concepts:
  • Always ask, “What could go wrong?”
  • Ask: “What am I doing?”; “Why am I doing it?”
  • What’s in your “Tool Box” when it comes to risk management?
  • Periodically review informed consent and limits of liability
  • Record keeping requirements
  • How to handle damage to your reputation on the Internet
  • Different roles in court and testifying
  • Teletherapy
  • Loss of computer with patient confidential information
  • Provisions after retirement
  • Provisions after death 
  • Suicide of a patient was delved into thoroughly. About 1 in 4 will lose a client. What post-suicide issues may come up? How to handle these? Not discussed, but areas of concern that have been the subject of a fair amount of postings, how to handle the death of a patient (natural causes/illness; accidental; victim of a crime), and patients who present a risk to others (SAFE Act and the recent creation of the Duty to Protect Committee) and commit crimes (including substance-related offenses).
Thanks to the presenter, Eric Harris, EdD, JD, for a solid introduction to many tough areas to navigate. Surprisingly, many attendees were not NYSPA members. With some plugs to join NYSPA, let’s see what happens.
RoyRoy Aranda, Psy.D., J.D.

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