PRMS Vice President Co-Editor of "Clinical Guide to Mental Disability Evaluations"

PRMS Vice President, Risk Management, Donna Vanderpool, MBA, JD has co-edited a new guide to disability evaluations with renowned forensic psychiatrist Liza H. Gold, MD. Entitled Clinical Guide to Mental Disability Evaluations, the book is an important collection of chapters written by forensic experts addressing the various types of mental disability examinations and related issues. Disability evaluations are the most common form of psychiatric evaluations performed for non-treatment purposes. However, despite the frequency with which mental health clinicians are asked to perform these evaluations, psychiatrists receive little to no formal training in conducting these evaluations. As Dr. Gold notes, “As a result, requests for disability evaluations leave patients, employers, insurance companies, and litigators without adequate information upon which to base major administrative or legal decisions. And, such requests often create anxiety and confusion in psychiatrists, and leave them vulnerable to types of liability of which they often unaware.”

This book (and its predecessor, Evaluating Mental Health in the Workplace: Model, Process, and Analysis by Gold and Shuman) sought to fill this gap. The focus is on "how to" - how to manage requests from patients for disability documentation, how to manage disability issues in clinical practice, how to include return to work in treatment planning, how to understand and provide the appropriate information for each type of disability evaluation: Social Security, Workers' Compensation, private insurance, the Americans with Disability Act, and other relevant subjects. “I wanted to ensure clinicians are aware of the shift in professional liability exposure related to disability evaluations. Gone are the days where there is no liability on the part of the forensic evaluator because there is no treatment relationship,” says Ms. Vanderpool. So in addition to a chapter devoted to liability issues associated with disability evaluations in general, each chapter educates clinicians about the legal implications of disability evaluations.

The editors’ goal was to create a guide relevant to both novices and experienced forensic behavioral health clinicians. According to a recent review in "The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law” (Volume 41, Number 3, 2013) this goal was met. The reviewer wrote, "This comprehensive guide provides a balanced text with content relevant to the general practitioner and experienced forensic evaluators, as well. It is sure to serve as a how-to guide for those new to disability evaluations, yet it provides sufficient detail and case law to serve as a reference for those looking to answer specific disability-related questions."

Dr. Gold and Ms. Vanderpool have developed an expertise in this area and have presented numerous courses on this topic at annual meetings of both the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and the American Psychiatric Association.

(Learn how The Psychiatrists' Program protects forensic psychiatrists.)


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Related Events

Donna Vanderpool participated in a course at the 2014 APA Annual Meeting "Can't Work or Won't Work? Psychiatric Disability Evaluations" with Liza Gold, MD and Marilyn Price, MD, CM. She covered legal liability issues and risk management related to the provision of disability evaluations.