At Your Service
Psychiatrists' Program Participants Get Numerous Benefits
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 13 page 22-22

Q. I am not a member of APA but am interested in applying for my medical malpractice coverage through the Psychiatrists' Program. Do I need to join APA to obtain the insurance coverage?

A. Yes, APA membership is a requirement of participation in the Psychiatrists' Program, the APA-endorsed Psychiatrists' Professional Liability Insurance Program. The Program, specifically designed for psychiatrists, is an APA membership benefit. For more information on joining the APA, please contact APA's Membership Office at (703) 907-7360.

Q. I was unable to attend APA's recent annual meeting but understand from a colleague that there were many psychiatry- specific risk-management materials at the booth of the Psychiatrists' Program. Are these materials-such as the risk-management tip sheets-still available, and if so, how can I obtain copies of them?

A. Select risk-management articles on a variety of topics such as confidentiality and release of records are available to all APA members on the Program's Web site at <www.psychprogram.com>. Furthermore, if you are a participant in the Program, you have access to our entire risk-management article library, as well as an online archive of the newsletter Rx for Risk via the "Participants Only" section of the Web site.

Q. I have my insurance through the Program. Am I covered for the supervision of students?

A. A psychiatrist's liability goes beyond direct patient care. Thus, the Program includes coverage, at no additional cost, for the psychiatrist's liability arising from supervision of students or subordinates who actually provide the care.

Q. As a new participant in the Program, I would like to know more about the Risk Management Consultation Service and what type of questions I can ask.

A. As a benefit of the Program, participants have unlimited, toll-free access to the Risk Management Consultation Service (RMCS) helpline. Participants may speak directly to the Program's risk-management staff for advice on a variety of issues such as how to handle unusual requests for patients' records or deal with a patient's family after the patient has committed suicide. Our objective is not simply to render risk-management advice, but also to assist with identifying and assessing risk-management issues, to explore riskmanagement techniques and strategies, and to provide necessary support. The RMCS staff may also provide referrals to other risk-management resources or local malpractice defense attorneys when appropriate.

Consistently, over 30 percent of the calls to the RMCS helpline are related to issues of patient confidentiality and the proper release of patient information. These calls cover a range of questions, including patient access to his/her record, responding to subpoenas for release of records and/or depositions, requests for release of records from attorneys, requirements for the maintenance and retention of records, and the HIPAA privacy rule.

There are also frequent calls about terminating the patient-psychiatrist relationship and avoiding allegations of patient abandonment. Other recurrent inquiries include questions about the risks involved with shared treatment arrangements, managing potentially dangerous patients and the duty to warn, and what to do after an adverse event such as patient suicide.

These are just a few examples of the calls we receive; however, we encourage participants to contact the RMCS whenever they are confronted by a situation that raises concerns about potential liability. No question is insignificant or frivolous.

This column is provided by PRMS, manager of the Psychiatrists' Program, for the benefit of members. More information is available by visiting the Program's Web site at <www.psychprogram.com>; calling (800) 245-3333, ext. 389; or sending an e-mail to TheProgram@prms.com. You can also send your questions to this e-mail address.

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