Medico-Legal Risk Associated with Pediatric Mental Health Telephone Consultation Programs
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.
KeywordsReferral and consultation Child and adolescent psychiatry Primary care Community mental health services
- Actual legal risks if you did it, but didn’t document. (2010). ED Management : The Monthly Update on Emergency Department Management, 22(11), 129–130.Google Scholar
- Bernal, P. (2003). Hidden morbidity in pediatric primary care. Pediatric Annals, 32(6), 413–418; quiz 421–422.Google Scholar
- Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. (2001). American academy of pediatrics. The new morbidity revisited: A renewed commitment to the psychosocial aspects of pediatric care. Committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health. Pediatrics, 108(5), 1227–1230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Forrest, C. B., Glade, G. B., Baker, A. E., Bocian, A. B., Kang, M., & Starfield, B. (1999). The pediatric primary-specialty care interface: How pediatricians refer children and adolescents to specialty care. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 153(7), 705–714.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Guevara, J. P., Rothbard, A., Shera, D., Zhao, H., Forrest, C. B., Kelleher, K., et al. (2007). Correlates of behavioral care management strategies used by primary care pediatric providers. Ambulatory Pediatrics: The Official Journal of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, 7(2), 160–166. doi: 10.1016/j.ambp.2006.12.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Horwitz, S. M., Kelleher, K. J., Stein, R. E., Storfer-Isser, A., Youngstrom, E. A., Park, E., et al. (2007). Barriers to the identification and management of psychosocial issues in children and maternal depression. Pediatrics, 119(1), e208–e218. doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-1997.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Libby, A. M., Brent, D. A., Morrato, E. H., Orton, H. D., Allen, R., & Valuck, R. J. (2007). Decline in treatment of pediatric depression after FDA advisory on risk of suicidality with SSRIs. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(6), 884–891. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.164.6.884.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Olson, A. L., Kelleher, K. J., Kemper, K. J., Zuckerman, B. S., Hammond, C. S., & Dietrich, A. J. (2001). Primary care pediatricians’ roles and perceived responsibilities in the identification and management of depression in children and adolescents. Ambulatory Pediatrics: The Official Journal of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, 1(2), 91–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Roach, W. H., Jr., Hoban, R. G., Jr., Broccol, B. M., Roth, A. B., & Blanchard, T. P. (Eds.). (2006). Medical records and the law (4th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Barlett Publishers.Google Scholar
- Sarvet, B., Gold, J., Bostic, J. Q., Masek, B. J., Prince, J. B., Jeffers-Terry, M.,… Straus, J. H. (2010). Improving access to mental health care for children: The massachusetts child psychiatry access project. Pediatrics, doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-1340.
- Stein, R. E., Horwitz, S. M., Storfer-Isser, A., Heneghan, A., Olson, L., & Hoagwood, K. E. (2008). Do pediatricians think they are responsible for identification and management of child mental health problems? Results of the AAP periodic survey. Ambulatory Pediatrics: The Official Journal of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, 8(1), 11–17. doi: 10.1016/j.ambp.2007.10.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar