In most legal proceedings, you have the right to prevent me from providing any information about your treatment. In some proceedings involving child custody and those in which your emotional condition and/or mental health is an important issue (such as a custody dispute, an injury lawsuit that claims compensation for emotional pain & suffering, etc.), a judge may order my testimony if he/she determines that the issues demand it. Similarly, you would lose protection of your privilege if you file a complaint with the state licensing board.
There are some situations in which I am legally obligated to take action to protect others from harm, even if I have to reveal some information about a client’s treatment. For example, if I believe that a child or an elderly person is being abused, I must file a report with the appropriate state agency.
If I believe that a patient is threatening serious bodily harm to another, I am required to take protective actions. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking hospitalization for the patient. If the client threatens to harm himself/herself, I may be obligated to seek hospitalization for him/her or to contact family members or others who can help provide protection.
These situations have rarely occurred in my practice. If a similar situation occurs, I will make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking any action.
I may find it helpful to consult other professionals about a case. During a consultation, I make every effort to avoid revealing the identity of my client. The consultant is also legally bound to keep the information confidential. If you don’t object, I will not tell you about these consultations unless I feel that it is important to our work together.
While this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality should prove helpful in information you about potential problems, it is important that we discuss any questions or concerns that you may have. I will be happy to discuss these issues with you if you need specific advice, but formal legal advice may be needed because the laws governing confidentiality are quite complex, and I am not an attorney.
The financial part of our relationship also imposes some confidentiality limits. If you are using insurance or another third party payer, I must share certain information with them, including (but not necessarily limited to) your diagnosis and the times of your visits, symptoms, progress, etc. You should also understand that insurance and managed care information is often stored in national computer databases. If I find myself in a dispute with you over billing, I may only provide the information necessary to clarify and collect any outstanding balance.