WSHA has joined other health care associations to file an amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief in the case of Volk v. DeMeerleer. The case before the Washington State Supreme Court addresses the scope of the duty of medical providers to warn third parties when a patient makes vague threats of violence but no actual threat to an identifiable victim.
In 1987 the legislature adopted a statute that prescribed the extent to which a provider has a duty to warn potential victims of a patient’s threat to them. In Volk, the Washington State Court of Appeals Division III expanded that duty in a very concerning way, substantially increasing the liability of physicians and hospitals. The Court of Appeals decision threatens the integrity and confidentiality of the patient-physician relationship, especially for patients in need of mental health treatment who greatly benefit from a secure and confidential relationship with their physicians. (Zosia Stanley)