Chances are pretty good that your regular physician wouldn’t diagnose you with a specific ailment without seeing you first, right? Why, then, is it considered okay for forensic psychiatrists to offer their professional opinion on a person – an opinion that may go a long way towards deciding whether or not that individual gets the long term disability insurance benefits they need – without conducting a personal examination?
The answer is that it isn’t considered okay – usually.
Ethic Guidelines for Forensic Psychiatrists
The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law demands that practicing psychiatrists always strive for objectivity, honesty, and adequacy when offering their medical opinion about a client, and do their best not to have their opinion distorted by their relationship with the party that retains them. In short, that means psychiatrists shouldn’t be influenced by the person or company that’s paying them.
But if you continue reading, these ethic guidelines say that it’s only okay for psychiatrists not to personally examine a patient in specific circumstances, such as when doing record reviews related to malpractice cases. Otherwise, they need to make “appropriate effort” to engage in a personal examination of the person in question.
What happens if the psychiatrist isn’t able to examine the patient despite their best efforts? Well, they are allowed to offer an opinion, but it’s one that will be loaded with caveats. They are required to state clearly that no personal examination occurred and explain how this limits their opinions and any conclusions that can be drawn from them.
Additionally, the guidelines explicitly say that psychiatric opinions provided without examination can be called into question.
How Psychiatric Opinions Get Their Weight
Because of the problems inherent with psychiatric opinions offered without examination, it is vital that your legal representative be aware if you weren’t personally examined.
To that end, you always want to make sure that your treating doctor conducts a personal examination so that his or her opinion will be given the weight that it is due.
And on the flip side, if the insurance company attempts to lend similar weight to contrary opinions by forensic psychiatrists or medical doctors that are not accompanied by an exam, you need to fight back against this tactic.
In order to win your claim and get the long term disability insurance benefits you need, it is key to understand how disability insurance policies work within the framework of disability laws. That’s why we offer a free eBook on the subject and are happy to sit down with you for a no-cost consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.