Legal and Ethical Issues in Providing Mental Health Disability Evaluations

  • Donna L. Vanderpool


The professional liability risk exposure related to performing disability evaluations is low. The primary exposures are litigation and administrative actions, such as investigations by state licensing boards. The law is evolving regarding legal duties that courts are imposing on clinicians performing disability evaluations and other independent medical evaluations (IMEs), and there is no consistency among the courts. However, it is clear that there can be liability for evaluations, even in the absence of a treatment relationship. Beyond that, courts vary in the exact legal duties that may be imposed on the clinician performing the evaluation, such as the duty not to harm (including mentally harm) the evaluee, the duty to maintain confidentiality, and the duty to warn or protect. In addition to litigation, administrative actions are discussed, specifically licensing board complaints, licensure requirements, and HIPAA investigations based on an evaluee’s request to access the evaluating clinician’s report.


Mental Health Clinician Disability Evaluation Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Appellate Court Social Security Disability Insurance 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Risk ManagementPRMS, IncArlingtonUSA

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