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February 10, 1993

Clinical Psychiatry and the Law

Author Affiliations

Fullerson, Calif


by Robert I. Simon, 2nd ed, 652 pp, $42.50, ISBN 0-88048-401-2, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press Inc, 1992.

JAMA. 1993;269(6):801. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500060101040

This book, a formidable work of 652 pages, is a practical and scholarly guide through the legal issues that involve psychiatrists and the whole mental health field of professionals. Clinical vignettes are used to introduce each chapter. The author states his purpose in writing the book as "to facilitate the clinical management of legal issues so that good patient care will be enhanced." The book's perspective is medical, not necessarily legal.

Valuable insights are offered about psychiatrist-patient relationships, malpractice, the ethics of practice, confidentiality, testimonial privilege, the patient's right to refuse treatment, and informed consent.

"Therapists need to feel comfortable with the idea that they do not have to feel helpless if a patient threatens with either suicide or homicide..."

I wish that I had more time and space to devote to this review, because I am so excited about the book's usefulness, artful writing, and clarity. What I can