Ethical Issues on Forensic-Psychiatric Examinations

Forensic Summary by Kiana DelGrosso

Written by Dr. Konrad and published in the Ethics, Medicine and Public Health volume 2 journal in 2016, the article Ethical Issues on Forensic-Psychiatric Examinations reviews the process of forensic psychiatric examinations through an ethical standpoint. A brief introduction of forensic psychiatry is given in order to show that their ethical standards can become blurred. Forensic psychiatrists are meant to not only diagnose and treat the patient but they must also have legal and criminology experience because their patients are usually criminal offenders. Because forensic psychiatry progresses based on current human behavior, each case is treated differently based on the legislation passed by each country and who that patient is or why they are being convicted. Dr. Konrad then introduces a main obligation a forensic psychiatrist has which is being an expert witness in specific cases. This also causes ethical issues to arise because depending on what is presented in court, the offenders punishment will be determined thus changing the obligation of the forensic psychiatrist from treating a patient to protecting the community from that patient.

Further information is then presented about the examination process the forensic psychiatrist must conduct when presented with a patient. The forensic psychiatrist must treat any information that is being given by the patient with caution. When conducting the exam, confidentiality is key as well as consent of the patient. Every examination must be conducted with the forensic psychiatrist not being biased because then ethical issues will arise as to whether the patient is being asked relevant fair questions. Dr. Konrad then talks about the risk assessment towards the forensic psychiatrist because this examination can conclude if a patient is released or not which then shows an ethical issue for the forensic psychiatrist who must choose between giving the unbiased results of the examination or faulty results because they were scared of retaliation. And then the issue of compulsory treatment is brought up because treatment can only be given if the patient has consented which brings up the ethical issue when a patient cannot consent because of their disorder. This article concludes with restating the multitude of ethical issues that arise when forensic psychiatrists perform examinations and their obligations whether it be to the patient or the community.

N. Konrad, Ethical issues on forensic-psychiatric examinations, Ethics, Medicine and Public Health, Volume 2, Issue 1, January–March 2016, Pages 119-126, ISSN 2352-5525, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jemep.2016.01.016.

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