Medico-Legal Risk Associated with Pediatric Mental Health Telephone Consultation Programs

  • Katherine Hobbs Knutson
  • Marlynn H. Wei
  • John H. Straus
  • Barry Sarvet
  • Bruce J. Masek
  • Bradley D. Stein
Original Article


Clinicians providing consultation through mental health telephone consultation programs express concern about the potential legal risk of the practice. In this survey of six state mental health telephone consultation program directors, we report the annual number of children referred for consultation and the number of lawsuits against consultant clinicians. Between 2004 and 2010, 3,652 children per year were referred nationally, and there were no medical malpractice lawsuits against clinicians related to telephone consultation program activity. Although medico-legal risk is always present, the findings of this national study suggest the risk for clinicians providing mental health telephone consultation may be lower than perceived.


Referral and consultation Child and adolescent psychiatry Primary care Community mental health services 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Hobbs Knutson
    • 1
  • Marlynn H. Wei
    • 6
  • John H. Straus
    • 2
  • Barry Sarvet
    • 3
  • Bruce J. Masek
    • 4
  • Bradley D. Stein
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Behavioral Health PartnershipBostonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Child PsychiatryBaystate HealthSpringfieldUSA
  4. 4.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  5. 5.RAND CorporationUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA
  6. 6.Bellevue HospitalNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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