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September 1969

Patient-Litigant Exception: A Hazard to Psychotherapy

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles
From the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;21(3):347-352. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740210091013

MOST psychiatrists think that what goes on between them and their patients is entirely confidential. They believe the relationship is afforded a form of legal protection known as privilege. Some doctors think privilege is a favor or protection given them by the law because of their special training and as a public recognition of their need to treat patients in a setting of utmost privacy, free from the potential intrusion of uninvited third parties. This is simply not so. The law extends privilege to the patient, not the doctor. It protects the patient from unwelcome disclosure and serves to keep private the intimate details of a professional relationship. Under certain circumstances the protection may be incomplete.

It is a general rule of law making that for every concession granted by statute, there are defined exceptions which serve to limit application of the statute and

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