2010 Tennessee Code
Title 24 - Evidence And Witnesses
Chapter 1 - Witnesses and Privileged Communications
Part 2 - Privileged Communications
24-1-207 - Communications between psychiatrist and patient.

24-1-207. Communications between psychiatrist and patient.

(a)  Communications between a patient and a licensed physician when practicing as a psychiatrist in the course of and in connection with a therapeutic counseling relationship regardless of whether the therapy is individual, joint, or group, are privileged in proceedings before judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals. Neither the psychiatrist nor any member of the staff may testify or be compelled to testify as to such communications or otherwise reveal them in such proceedings without consent of the patient except:

     (1)  In proceedings in which the patient raises the issue of the patient's mental or emotional condition;

     (2)  In proceedings for which the psychiatrist was ordered by the tribunal to examine the patient if the patient was advised that communications to the psychiatrist would not be privileged, but testimony as to the communications is admissible only on issues involving the patient's mental or emotional condition; and

     (3)  In proceedings to involuntarily hospitalize the patient under title 33, chapter 6, part 4 or title 33, chapter 6, part 5, if the psychiatrist decides that the patient is in need of care and treatment in a residential facility. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the exception is limited to disclosures necessary to establish that the patient poses a substantial likelihood of serious harm requiring involuntary hospitalization under title 33, chapter 6, part 4 or title 33, chapter 6, part 5.

(b)  When personally identifiable patient information is to be disclosed in a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding or any other public proceeding, the authority conducting the proceeding shall take reasonable steps to prevent unnecessary exposure of such information to the public and to further this section's policy of protecting the right of privacy. Such steps may include screening of questions in pre-hearing conferences and in camera inspection of papers.

(c)  (1)  Privileged communications between a patient and a licensed physician when practicing as a psychiatrist in the course of and in connection with a therapeutic counseling relationship, regardless of whether the therapy is individual, joint, or group, may be disclosed without consent of the patient if:

          (A)  Such patient has made an actual threat to physically harm an identifiable victim or victims; and

          (B)  The treating psychiatrist makes a clinical judgment that the patient has the apparent capability to commit such an act and that it is more likely than not that in the near future the patient will carry out the threat.

     (2)  The psychiatrist may disclose patient communications to the extent necessary to warn or protect any potential victim. No civil or criminal action shall be instituted, nor shall liability be imposed due to the disclosure of otherwise confidential communications by a psychiatrist pursuant to this subsection.

[Acts 1965, ch. 157, § 1; 1972, ch. 648, § 11; T.C.A., § 24-112; Acts 1986, ch. 776, § 1; 1987, ch. 417, § 1; 1989, ch. 519, § 1; 1994, ch. 832, § 1; 2000, ch. 947, §§ 8A, 8C.]  

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