Standards of Practice and Care in Forensic Mental Health Assessment: Legal, Professional, and Principles-Based Consideration
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol 14(1), Feb, 2008. pp. 1-26.
26 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2020 Last revised: 26 Jun 2020
Date Written: 2008
The specialization of forensic mental health assessment (FMHA) has incorporated important advances during the last two decades. As scientific advances, specialized tools, and relevant ethical guidelines have become core elements of FMHA, however, the question of how to regulate poor practice has assumed increasing importance. One such means of regulation that has been rarely applied to FMHA thus far is malpractice litigation using a clearly defined standard of care. This article focuses on the relationship between standard of practice and standard of care in FMHA. The authors discuss the current absence of a standard of care in FMHA, describing the historical, regulatory, and legal influences that have helped to shape the current state of practice in this specialty area and their relevance to operationalizing a standard of care. The authors address the various sources of authority that the law might consider in defining a standard of care and specify circumstances under which legal regulation using a standard of care would be more useful than would ethical/professional regulation using a standard of practice. Finally, the authors describe the advantages of developing a clearer standard of practice in FMHA, which can then inform the operationalization of a standard of care. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved).
Keywords: FMHA, standard of care, standard of practice, forensic mental health assessment
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