1st Edition

Risk Management with Suicidal Patients

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ISBN 9781572304987
Published September 16, 1999 by Guilford Press
197 Pages

USD $29.00

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Book Description

How does the law define reasonable care in the treatment of suicidal patients? What are the most clinically and legally appropriate procedures for evaluating and managing suicide risks? And what forms of precautionary planning and documentation are recommended for minimizing the likelihood of malpractice actions? Drawing upon years of clinical experience as well as extensive malpractice claims data and relevant case law, this book outlines effective assessment, management, and treatment procedures that balance the need for high-quality care with the requirements of court-determined and statutory standards. Three widely cited papers on standards of care are accompanied by four new chapters on clinical and legal risk management and issues surrounding pharmacotherapy.

Table of Contents

Introduction, Bruce Bongar
1. Outpatient Standards of Care and the Suicidal Patient, Bruce Bongar, Ronald W. Maris, Alan L. Berman, and Robert E. Litman
2. Outpatient Management of Suicidal Patients, Andrew Edmund Slaby
3. Inpatient Standards of Care and the Suicidal Patient: Part I. General Clinical Formulations and Legal Considerations, Bruce Bongar, Ronald W. Maris, Alan L. Berman, Robert E. Litman, and Morton M. Silverman
4. Inpatient Standards of Care and the Suicidal Patient: Part II. An Integration with Clinical Risk Management, Morton M. Silverman, Alan L. Berman, Bruce Bongar. Robert E. Litman, and Ronald W. Maris
5. Psychopharmacological Treatment of Suicidal Inpatients, Mark J. Goldblatt, Morton M. Silverman, and Alan F. Schatzberg
6. Clinical Psychopharmacotherapy with Hospitalized Patients: A Forensic Perspective, Morton M. Silverman
7. Legal Issues and Risk Management in Suicidal Patients, Wendy L. Packman and Eric A. Harris
Postscript: Commentary on Chapters 1, 3, and 4, Robert E. Litman
Postscript: Reply to Litman, Morton M. Silverman

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Bruce Bongar, PhD, is Professor in the Clinical Psychology Program at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP), in Palo Alto, California, Consulting Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, and Director of the joint doctoral program in Psychology and the Law offered by PGSP and Golden Gate University School of Law.

Alan L. Berman, PhD, is Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology. He has published widely on the subject of suicide and frequently provides expert testimony in legal cases involving malpractice and wrongful death. He served as the suicide expert to the Office of Independent Counsel to investigate and finalize their report on the 1993 death of White House Counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr.

Ronald W. Maris, PhD, is Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Suicide at the University of South Carolina. Past President of the American Association of Suicidology and former Editor-in-Chief of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, that association's official journal, he has published numerous books on the subject of suicide. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, a board-certified Forensic Examiner, and maintains a private practice in forensic consultation.

Morton M. Silverman, MD, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Student Counseling and Resource Service at the University of Chicago. He is Editor-in-Chief of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior and coeditor of the book Review of Suicidology, 1997.

Eric A. Harris, EdD, JD, is a consultant to the American Psychological Association Insurance Trust and a faculty member of the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. He has consulted and lectured extensively on both risk management and managed care.

Wendy Packman, JD, PhD, is a Fellow in Pediatric Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. She has written judicial opinions on psychological disability in social security cases, and her published articles include a review of malpractice arising from negligent psychotherapy. She is also active in the development of the joint doctoral program in Psychology and the Law offered by PGSP and Golden Gate University School of Law.


One-third of the psychologists and half the psychiatrists in this country will find themselves snared in malpractice actions in the course of their careers. These imbroglios usually drag on several years; practitioners pay a heavy price and at best can expect a searing emotional experience before such a case is concluded. If you want to keep out of painful lawsuits, study this book. Its contributors are a 'who's who' in suicide studies, and it reads as though it was written on the courthouse steps. Knowing what is in this book is the practitioner's best prophylaxis for safe practice. --John T. Maltsberger, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School