Psychologist Liability and Legal
Historical environment
Program today
Legal liabilities from practice
Historical Challenges
Driven by profit
Discrepancy in quality & Coverage
Limited accountability / control / input
Increasing litigation / regulatory action
Limited analysis on claims trending
Limited outcomes from data
Minimal additional member value
Limited incentive to introduce a member centric structure
What is done with analytics today compared to the past 30 years
Healthcare Professionals
Insurance Alliance
The OPA (national) Program
Broker: BMS Group
Insurer: Lloyds of London – QBE
Adjuster: Maltman International
Preferred Legal Services:
Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP
The Program
Tailored exclusive protection
Over 7,400 Psychologists with exclusive unique coverage
$ in paid claims
Coverage designed with the input of the profession
Funds re-invested back into the program
Measurable Outcomes
Enhanced risk management, education
Safer patient care
Better control of premiums / Enhanced coverage
Risk and Liability
Where actions arise
Civil Law – proving negligence
Vicarious Liability
Pursuant with various acts and legislation
Disciplinary Proceedings
Criminal law
Issues arising beyond scope of practice
Coverage Highlights
Professional Liability Coverage (Scope)
General Liability Coverage
Claims made policy form
*Full retroactive / Tail coverage (retirement)
Coverage Territory
Business Clinic Insurance
Clinic Entity / Incorporated
Cyber for clinics
Resources & Renew
Legal Services
Top ten legal issues facing Psychologists
Privacy and Confidentiality
Disposal of Records
Informed Consent
Record Keeping
Mandatory Reporting
College Complaint
Civil Claim
Expert Opinion
Pro Bono Line
646 Calls (30 minutes of free legal advice)
Top 5 Call Categories
1. Record Keeping and Charting Questions
2. Questions about Acting as an Expert Witness / Being
3. College Complaint (actual or potential)
4. Reporting Obligations
5. Private Practice Questions
Professional Liability Concerns
Call the CPA Hotline: 1-855-441-4424
Go to your College’s website to review:
the applicable legislation and regulations
Standards / Code of Conduct
Policy documents / Practice directives
You receive a request for a patient’s chart from a lawyer representing
the patient. Before you release the chart, what should you do?
A. Confirm that they are willing to pay for a copy, send a copy to the
B. Make sure there is an executed authorization permitting you to
release the chart and confirm they will pay for a copy before sending
C. Ignore it
D. Make a copy and send it to the lawyer, no questions asked
As a psychologist, you are faced with various exposures throughout
your daily practice. Some of the areas where legal proceedings may
be initiated include:
A. Practising beyond your scope of practice
B. Improper record keeping
C. Lack of consent
D. All of the above
What should you do when you receive a College complaint?
A. Ignore it because it is frivolous
B. Call the investigator from the College and explain what happened
C. Prepare a response and deliver it to the College
D. Call your broker and get legal advice
You receive a letter who is acting on behalf of a current patient of
yours. The lawyer then calls you and wants to know your opinion on
the effects of the care and treatment previously provided to your
patient by another psychologist. How do you respond?
A. Tell the lawyer why the previous psychologist failed in her/his
approach to cognitive behavior therapy.
B. Advise the lawyer to set the questions out in writing in addition to
the terms and conditions of this retainer for a psychological opinion.
C. Respond to the lawyer’s telephone request with a written opinion
and then bill the patient for your opinion.
D. Ignore - advise your patient that any more calls from his/her lawyer
will be grounds for termination of your treating relationship.
You and two other psychologists that you work with at your office are
named as defendants in a lawsuit. The office manager wants to have
a meeting with the three of you to discuss what happened. How
should you respond?
A. Decline to attend the meeting until you have received legal advice
B. Go to the meeting
C. Speak to the other two physiotherapists to develop a strategy for the
meeting and then attend the meeting
D. Review the chart and then prepare a summary in writing for your
manager to review at your meeting
In the event a patient makes a complaint about you to your College,
should you continue to provide treatment to that patient?
A. Yes
B. No
Who is permitted to file a complaint about a psychologist with your
A. patient
B. Family member or friend of a patient
C. Other colleague
D. All of the above
During the investigation of a complaint, your College is not permitted
to do the following:
A. Interview other individuals that you work with
B. Obtain patient records
C. Make unsolicited calls to other patients that you have treated
D. Retain an expert to review your practice
While your College has a number of options available to it when
determining, what, if any action, it can take with respect to a
complaint, it cannot do the following:
A. Impose limitations on your license
B. Make an award of monetary damages
C. Require you to take educational courses
D. Refer you to a disciplinary hearing
You have been served with a Court Order to appear in Court with
certain confidential medical records relating to a patient on a particular
day. What should you do?
A. Attend and bring only those records requested in the Order.
B. Call opposing counsel and explain the counselling services
provided to your patient in order to avoid going to Court.
C. Attend but do not bring the medical records as that would be a
breach of patient confidentiality.
D. Attend and bring every possible record that you believe relates to the
court proceeding.
In the course of providing psychological services to a patient, the
patient provides you with reasonable grounds to believe that he was
sexually assaulted by a psychologist, a close friend of yours, ten (10)
years ago. What do you do?
A. Terminate the psychologist-patient relationship on the basis of a
conflict of interest.
B. File a written report to the Registrar of the College, which sets out
the reasonable grounds for your belief.
C. Decide not to make a mandatory report against your friend, but warn
her about the bald allegations being made by her former patient.
D. Make a note in your chart; continue treating the patient.
Can a minor or someone with a mental illness provide you with
informed consent?
A. No
B. Yes, as long as you are confident that the person consenting has
the ability to appreciate the nature and consequences of the
consent discussion.
C. Yes, but only if a parent, guardian or substitute decision maker
also provides consent.
If you are to involve a student in a patient’s care you can:
A. Proceed without consent.
B. Assume the patient consents if they don’t say anything.
C. Have the patient consent to the involvement of the student.
D. Proceed as if the student isn’t there.
A couple of days after you see a patient, you realize that you forgot to
include pertinent information in the note you made for that visit. How
should you address this?
A. Do nothing
B. Amend the record so that is it accurate
C. Add an addendum to the record with the new information, date it
and sign it
D. Call the patient for another appointment and then make a new note.
E. Destroy the record, call the College and self-report.
Before disclosing the contents of the chart of a patient to a third party,
from whom should you obtain consent?
A. The lawyer for the patient
B. The College
C. The patient
D. Your priest or spiritual advisor
If you are served with a statement of claim, you should not:
A. Make a note of the day you received the claim and how you
received it
B. Call you insurer
C. Contact the patient directly and ask them about the claim
D. Review the patient chart and prepare a summary of your recollection
of what occurred regarding the treatment you provided
What percentage of civil cases actually make it to a trial?
A. 1%
B. 3%
C. 10%
D. 15%
In order for a patient to succeed in a claim of negligence against you,
they must be able to prove the following:
A. That you breached the standard of care and they sustained
B. That you breached the standard of care, that the breach of the
standard of care caused the patient to become injured and that the
patient has sustained damages.
C. They sustained damages
D. None of the above
You have decided to retire and close your practice. Knowing that you
are obligated to maintain those records for seven years, what are you
required to do with the records that you have maintained?
A. Destroy them
B. Make arrangements to ensure that they are stored in a secure
manner in compliance with the College Policy and inform your
patients and the College as to where the records can be accessed
C. Send them back to each patient
D. Put them in your basement
The parent of a patient who is a minor attends at your office
requesting a copy of the chart that you have maintained . How should
you respond to the request?
A. After checking their identification to confirm they are the parent of
the child, provide them with the chart
B. Ask them if they can confirm that the minor knows that this
request is being made. If they say yes, provide them with the chart
C. Ask them for a written consent from the minor authorizing the
release of the chart
D. Tell them that you cannot provide them with a copy of the chart, but
would be happy to provide them with a verbal summary of the treatment
You have been retained by a lawyer to review the care and treatment
provided to a patient by a psychologist. The lawyer advises you to be
supportive of the psychologist in your written report and at trial, and to
ignore critical facts. Upon cross-examination at trial, do you
acknowledge the lawyer’s direction?
A. No. Your dealings with the lawyer are subject to litigation privilege.
B. No. You are retained by the lawyer who is defending the
psychologist and owe him/her a duty to defend the case.
C. Yes. Your communications with the lawyer in this instance are not
protected by any privilege; further, you have a duty to the Court to
provide fair, objective and non-partisan advice.
D. At all times during your expert retainer, you have a duty to the Court
to provide fair, objective and non-partisan advice. You never made it to
Court as the lawyer discontinued the retainer upon reading your nonbiased report.

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