Relationship of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality

High School ・Psychology ・APA ・2 Sources

The Tarasoff v Regents is a 1976 case brought in court that offers a judicial precedent on the rule of tort in several states in America (Jauhar, 2015). The case guides, in particular, the legal obligation of the medical profession with respect to the confidentiality of the patient-doctor and the responsibility to warn of the potential risk to the intended patients. The Supreme Court ruled in the case that the doctor and the police had no responsibility to alert the survivor or Tarasoff's parents (plaintiffs) because the discretionary element granted police immunity (Jauhar, 2015). For the psychiatrists, they reported the danger to the police and they had to maintain their confidentiality with the patient while administering psychological treatment to prevent the patient from harming anyone. For the mental health profession, the precedence means they can do their jobs without fear of legal problems and to able to maintain confidentiality. Also, it gives the conditions under which they can violate the confidentiality protocol as well as the specific circumstances that amount to the need for a duty to warn, as per the confines of the law (Jauhar, 2015). The precedence affects the ethics and Hippocratic Oath of the health professionals.

Question 2

My state is Georgia and the Tarasoff case does not apply. However, it uses some aspects which are based on a similar case of Bradley center v Wessner (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2015). The topics of the negligence of a patient in the hands of a health professional and subsequent carrying out the threats are evident. The statutes, therefore, that guide this relationship include the code of ethics by the state board of examiners and psychologists, Ch. 510-4-02 to 4.05 (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2015). In this case, doctors can violate confidentiality ethics and be protected by the law if the patient under their care makes threats and the doctors warn the police about him or her. If the threats are directed at victims who can be identifiable, then the professional has a duty to warn them to protect the patient, potential victims, and the hospital staff from harm.

Question 3

In my opinion, sometimes it can be difficult for the psychiatrists to assess the risk of patient threats in good time, especially to be able to warn the potential victims. In some cases, the patient might be mentioning threats directed to no one in particular, hence, one cannot be able to guess the identity of the potential victims. In this regard, the doctors can only play their role of control and avoidance of negligence by treating that patient until he or she is stable to prevent other people from harm.


Jauhar, S. (2015). Protect doctor-patient confidentiality. Retrieved from

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2015). Mental health professionals’ duty to warn. Retrieved from

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