Duty to Warn

January 31, 2017

A statutory fix is needed to undo the harm to patients, providers and the community that will result from the recent Washington State Supreme Court ruling in Volk v DeMeerleer. House Bill 1810 will clarify that mental health providers have a duty to warn potential victims and law enforcement when a patient makes an actual threat of physical violence against the reasonably identifiable victim or victims. This long standing standard for when a duty exists was abandoned by the Supreme Court when the court determined the question of whether the warning was adequately made is dependent on the facts and circumstances in the case. The ambiguity of the decision makes it impossible for practitioners to know when they have met their obligations.   (Taya Briley) 


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Washington State Hospital Association
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Seattle, WA 98104

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