Legal responsibility for mental health workers addressed

Oct. 4, 2017

On September 29, 2017, Drew Balac of the Balac Law Group led a meeting of psychologists, social workers, and counselors about risk management strategies that they can employ in their private practice.

The discussion covered a variety of topics and addressed a number of concerns raised by mental health professionals.  However, the duty to warn emerged as the biggest concern and easily dominated the discussion.

Scheduled for just one hour, the frank discussion lasted nearly two hours due to the number of questions about legal responsibility regarding the violent actions of patients or clients.

“Having a patient commit suicide, homicide or any act of violence is easily the Number One concern I hear from my behavioral health clients,” said Balac, principal at Balac Law Group, a law firm specializing in medical malpractice defense.

Unfortunately, in our current environment, we’re seeing a marked rise in senseless violence, which has ratcheted up the level of anxiety in patients who were already fragile.  At the same time, mental health professionals are on higher alert.

It is important for a mental health professional to have a clear understanding of when the duty to warn arises and to have a clear plan of action when the duty does arise.

Balac was able to illustrate the duty to warn through a series of fact patterns.  Instead of lecturing, Balac engaged the attendees.

She felt the open discussion and exchange of ideas among the group was key to the success of the meeting and led to a better understanding of the duty to warn.

To schedule a meeting with the Balac Law Group at your practice, please contact Scott Rowan.