Duty To Warn Ideology: The Doctor Patient Confidentiality

1094 words - 4 pages

Duty to Warn
There are many ethical practices that are advocated for in every profession in the world. These ethics are supposed to promote integrity and also ensure that the profession in question does not violate the rights of any of the parties that might get involved in it. The most common example that almost everyone in the world is conversant with is “the doctor-patient confidentiality”. Other professions also have their own codes of ethics, which are supposed to safeguard the interest of the parties involved without violating an individual’s liberties. However, there have been numerous scenarios that make doctors and other professions feel the need of sharing information of use to other parties (Stone 1985). This is more so when it comes to the welfare of a patient or other intended victims. This research paper writes for the “duty to warn” ideology.
The Tarasoff case showed the need of warning authorities on potentially dangerous personnel, although the case brought about controversy on doctor-patient confidentiality. The case involved two students from the University of California, Berkley in 1969. This was after a male student, Prosenjit Poddar murdered with a kitchen knife. The two had met in a folk dancing class a year earlier, and they ended up sharing a kiss on New Years Eve of 1969. This kiss convinced Poddar that they were in a serious relationship, but when Tarasoff informed him that they were not and indeed she was going out with other men, he swore to kill her (Walcott et al, 2001). He had even told a friend of his he intended to blow her up in her room. On top of that he neglected his health and his studies out of depression. His friend managed to convince him to go to therapy, and he started seeing Dr. Moore, who was a psychologist in the university staff (Stone, 1985).
During therapy (on their ninth session), Poddar told his doctor that he intended to kill Tarasoff after she had returned from summer break. The doctor advised the campus security on his intentions, and even recommended that he should be hospitalized involuntarily (Walcott et al, 2001). However, after the campus security talked with Poddar, they released him saying their talk had made him change his attitude towards Tarasoff and that he would stay away from her. The university psychiatric director, Dr. Harvey Powelson was informed of the situation and how the campus security had released Poddar. Dr. Powelson went ahead to ask the university staff not to pursue further the idea of hospitalizing Poddar (Stone, 1985). However, Poddar made his way to Tarasoff’s house on October 27th and killed her. He even had the courtesy of calling the police informing them of his murder, and that he needed to be arrested.
When this case got to the Supreme Court of California, the jury made a few observation regarding the case, and who would be held liable for the mistake of letting Poddar go when a psychologist had recommended hospitalization. This court found that the...

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