Psychological Injury and Law

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 264–289 | Cite as

Who Is the Client and Who Controls Release of Records in a Forensic Evaluation? A Review of Ethics Codes and Practice Guidelines

Article

Abstract

Forensic psychologists often refuse to release evaluation records, especially to the evaluee. One justification for this practice is based on the ethical positions that the referral source “is the client” and “controls release of records” (also found in the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology). To determine whether these ethical positions are shared by the field of forensic mental health, official documents from forensic mental health organizations were used as a proxy for these views. Thirty-four supporting arguments for either position were identified from the literature; it was postulated that official documents would support both positions and utilize supporting arguments. Fifty-four official documents were discovered, and qualitative analysis was used to construct a 17-category model of official views. Neither position was supported by a majority of documents, and few of the supporting arguments were utilized by supportive documents. The positions are unsupported because official documents espouse a wide diversity of views, there are a number of logical flaws in supporting arguments, and even official APA documents hold conflicting views. Ethical arguments are advanced for contrary positions, and the referral-source-control of records release is contrary to law. A more ethical view is that the psychologist may have multiple, possibly conflicting responsibilities to multiple entities; the psychologist’s roles and responsibilities should be clarified with each entity using an informed consent process. Psychologists should release records at the behest of the evaluee, lest they be subject to licensing discipline, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) complaints, and/or civil sanctions. Recommendations are offered for psychologists, future ethics codes and professional practice guidelines, and test security practices.

Keywords

Ethics Access Who is the client HIPAA Referral source Patient rights Test \security Test data Practice guidelines Qualitative analysis Dual agency 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SebringUSA

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