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Physician Health Programs

  • 2017

This Resource Document aims to highlight some important safeguards and best practices for Physician Health Programs (PHPs) for physicians who seek help voluntarily from PHPs as well as those who are mandated participants. These suggestions are intended to help PHPs and their affiliates to align their practices and procedures with the goals of treatment and to minimize the risk of adverse outcomes, both for the public and for the physicians who participate in PHPs.

Physician Assisted Death

  • 2017

Over the past two decades, a number of US states have enacted statutes legalizing the practice of physician-assisted death (PAD).12 In 1997, Oregon passed the first statute that legalized PAD. Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), California (2015), and Colorado (2016) have followed suit. In addition, a state court ruling in Montana legalized PAD in 2009. In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled PAD to be legal and the Canadian Parliament subsequently enacted a law to implement PAD. In February 2017, PAD was legalized in the District of Columbia. Legalization of PAD has been proposed in about half of all states in recent years. There appears to be a broad movement to consider legalization of PAD that may lead to legislation in other states. In the United States, PAD statutes have been restricted to patients with terminal illness, typically defined as an illness that is irreversible and likely to lead to death within six months.

Mental Health and Climate Change

  • 2017

Climate change is recognized as one of the top threats to global health in the 21st century. Mental Health impacts of climate change are significant sources of stress for individuals and communities. The social and mental health consequences of extreme and slow-moving weather events are well documented, ranging from minimal stress and distress symptoms to clinical disorder, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal thoughts (Arnberg et al., 2013; Fullerton et al., 2013; North et al., 2004). High risk coping behavior, such as alcohol use, has been associated with climate related weather events (Flory et al.,2009; Rohrbach et al., 2009). Intimate partner violence may increase as well, with women being particularly effected (Harville et al., 2011; Fisher, 2010). Suicidal thoughts and behavior have been shown to increase following extreme weather events (Kessler et al., 2008; Larrance et al., 2007). In addition, population displacement and migrations, breakdown of community infrastructure, food scarcity, loss of employment, and poor sense of social support and connectedness have serious consequences for mental health (Chan et al., 2015; Benight et al.,1999; Ursano et al., 2014).

Telemedicine Synchronous Video-conferencing in Psychiatry

  • 2017

Synchronous video-conferencing in psychiatry began during the 1950s. Synchronous video-conferencing became increasingly common during the 1970s and 1980s. By the early 2000s, the Department of Veterans Affairs was building a national telemedicine program including video-conferencing.

Ethical Considerations Regarding Internet Searches for Patient Information

  • 2017

The introduction of web search engines and their development in the 1990s dramatically changed the landscape of information gathering. With only a few clicks on a computer, cellphone or other device, an individual could access information on a wide range of topics in a matter of seconds, including personal information of others. To “Google” for information (i.e., to research something via Google or other search engines) has become routine in our daily endeavors. Search engines and social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and so on, provide a ready trove of information on people, events, places and things. They encourage individuals to post personal information on these sites that can be easily accessed by others.

College Mental Health and Confidentiality

  • 2016

College homicides and suicides often precipitate reviews of regulations, statutes and case law governing treatment and confidentiality.1 In April 2007, for example, a college senior at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University killed 32 students and faculty, wounded many others and then killed himself. The review panel appointed by the Governor found significant confusion among university officials about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)2, the federal law governing confidentiality of educational records, leaving them uncertain about what information could be revealed to each other as well as to the student’s parents.3 Psychiatrists seeing students as patients in college settings, either as employees of student mental health services or as private practitioners in the community, have also been confused as to their relationship to the university and the effect of federal and state laws governing confidentiality. This resource document was prepared to give practitioners a guide to providing good clinical care within the framework of relevant law.

Why Should More Psychiatrists Participate in the Treatment of Patients in Jails and Prisons?

  • 2016

People with serious mental illness are substantially overrepresented in the criminal justice system. (Steadman, et al. 2009; Fazel et al. 2016) This results in a higher prevalence of mentally ill patients in correctional facilities than in the community and the high proportion of justice-involved patients in county and state mental health systems. State hospitals that remain after decades of deinstitutionalization have seen their beds fill with large proportions of criminal court commitments while civil commitments have diminished (Fuller et al. 2016). Public sector community mental health programs typically have sizable populations under an order for care and treatment through probation and parole conditions or conditional release from a hospital after an insanity acquittal (Fuller et al. 2016).

Bariatric Surgery and Psychiatric Care

  • 2016

The purpose of this resource document is to highlight the role of psychiatrists in the care of patients undergoing bariatric surgery. The document identifies key psychiatric components to pre-bariatric surgery assessment and aftercare, which underscore the need for integrated psychiatric services throughout patients’ bariatric surgery care.

Involuntary Outpatient Commitment

  • 2015

Involuntary outpatient commitment is a form of court-ordered outpatient treatment for patients who suffer from severe mental illness and who are unlikely to adhere to treatment without such a program. It can be used as a transition from involuntary hospitalization, an alternative to involuntary hospitalization or as a preventive treatment for those who do not currently meet criteria for involuntary hospitalization. It should be used in each of these instances for patients who need treatment to prevent relapse or behaviors that are dangerous to self or others.

Interacting with Caregivers

  • 2015

In this document, we address ethical and legal issues related to involving caregivers in the treatment of patients and provide a comprehensive approach to the engagement of caregivers in the treatment process. This approach revolves around the development and implementation of a caregiver plan (CGP). It is important to note that the development of a formal CGP does not reflect current practice in the field. The discussion of a CGP in this document is for education: to describe a potential best practice. Given the complexity of managing caregivers’ involvement, practitioners may find it useful to create formal CGPs.

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