Psychiatrists’ Responses to Requests for Psychiatric Information in Federal Personnel Investigations
Approved by the Joint Reference Committee, June, 2006
Psychiatrists routinely receive and respond to patient authorizations to release information to third parties. However, a security clearance-related request for information differs from an ordinary release of information generally encountered in clinical practice. An ordinary release specifies records, notes, admission or discharge summaries, or other information generated in the course of clinical care. Most often, the information is to be released to another provider or facility for use in a therapeutic context, for the benefit of the individual patient. In contrast, the security clearancerelease may call for the psychiatrist to make a judgment about his or her patient (i.e., does the patient have a condition that could impair judgment or reliability in the context of safeguarding national security information, or be at risk for future violent behavior) that could be disqualifying for employment. Although this resource document deals only with requests for psychiatrists' disclosures with regard to security clearances, the similarities to other work-related evaluations (e.g., can the individual return to work, can the individual function as a police officer), or to other circumstances in which disclosures may be used for legal or administrative purposes (e.g., forensic evaluations) should be noted.