Sep 29

Your Patient has Harmed Themselves. Are You Covered?

Young Female Patient Talking To Nurse In Emergency Room

As an experienced mental health professional, you know better than anyone that people can be unpredictable. This includes patients. As a professional, you might feel that there’s a need to hold your patient’s hand to keep them on the right path. However, no matter how much you support them in creating a healthy life, it’s possible that your patient may steer away from this path toward a crisis.

This is par for the course in the mental health field, but the truth doesn’t make it any easier to deal with or undo the unexpected tragedies of your patients.

As much as you might try, you are affected by your patients and their actions. It’s why the rate of depression affecting therapists is so high: 61% percent.

When your patient who has been in your care and has trusted your advice harms themselves, are you liable? It’s a question that, although difficult to fathom, is very necessary to ask and prepare for. It’s not enough to have group or employment coverage, because, many times, the patient goes after their caregiver.

What happens when a patient attempts to sue you? The first thing you can expect is the damage that occurs to your reputation by mere association. There are also potential fees that you may have to pay out of your own pocket, if you’re not covered. We’ve read the horror stories that plague the medical industry, your patient, referred to you for mental health care, puts you in an even more vulnerable position, especially if they can’t be trusted to care for themselves…it’s why they’ve entrusted you in the first place.

Some attorneys even specialize in the area of helping the loved ones of patients who have committed suicide to receive retribution, at the expense of the treating professional. All you have to do is Google the statistics and it’s enough to make you want to close your doors. When you’re done looking up the alarming facts, you’ll likely agree it’s more important than ever to secure liability insurance, in case one of your patients becomes unstable. We’re here to help you protect yourself, your career, and your assets.

With the peace of mind that comes with having coverage, you can be that much more of an effective healer for your patients. It’s why you’ve chosen therapy: to derail these tragedies and to save people’s lives. To make a difference.

Sep 28

Responding to Requests for Children’s Treatment Records

Child psychologist with a little girl, a child draws

Special care should be taken by therapists when a child is receiving counseling services, and the child’s parent requests a copy of all treatment notes and records. If possible, comply with the parent’s request by providing a treatment summary or progress report in response, in order to protect the child’s confidences made to the therapist.  Children, like all clients, are asked to confide their problems to therapists, and are assured that the information will remain confidential.

Children often confide in therapy very personal feelings, such as “I do not want to live with my dad.  He is mean to me.” Or they may confide, “I do not like my mom’s new boyfriend.” When parents access treatment notes containing such statements, foreseeable harm to the child, who has confided these feelings, results. The parent may berate the child for making statements, in confidence, in the safety of a counseling session, which the parent finds offensive.  Furthermore, when a child realizes that confidences regarding emotions, feelings, or parent-child problems, confided to a therapist, are being disclosed to the child’s parent, the child learns that information provided to the therapist is not kept in confidence and may be shared with parents. This, of course, tends to destroy a child’s trust in the counseling process.

When parents are involved in a divorce or custody case, and a request is made for a child’s mental health treatment records, that parent may not have the child’s best interests in mind. The New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a landmark precedent in Berg v Berg, 886 A.2d 990 (N.H. 2005). In its decision, the Court ruled that either a G.A.L. or the Judge should make a determination concerning whether it is in the best interests of a child, whose treatment notes have been requested by a parent, for treatment notes to be provided to the parents, or not. The Court’s decision stated that judges cannot presume that parents have their children’s best interests at heart, when children’s mental health treatment records are sought for use in divorce or custody litigation.

In order to avoid conflict with a parent who demands all of the therapist’s treatment notes and records, when the individual receives a copy of a treatment summary or progress report, it is an excellent practice to disclose to the parent in the treatment contract or in a disclosure statement that the therapist will comply with the parent’s request for treatment records by providing a treatment summary or progress report.

By Denis Lane, Attorney at Law

Sep 22

What You Can Learn From Healthcare Workers Without Insurance

Doctors and patients in hospital waiting room.

Flammable patients? Have you heard of such an incident happening in the operating room? But it’s true. Each year an estimated 650 people are victims of surgical fires during surgery. Some of the causes seem like circumstances straight out of fiction: an electronic scalpel meets the oxygen supply; an alcohol-based disinfectant interacts with a cauterizing tool.

No one can argue successfully that the patients aren’t the ones suffering the most. When people lose their lives and limbs, nothing could be worse. Medical staff often suffer psychological issues after a patient tragedy, and medical errors take place more frequently than most people might think.

One healthcare worker only inserted an IV needle into a car crash victim’s arm in an effort to save her life. When the patient succumbed to her injuries, the man attempting to rescue her became one of many called to defend himself in a suit brought by the victim’s surviving family members.

Health care specialists endure a multitude of injustices when sued, and the implications are far-reaching. Many stand to lose their careers, the very reason they might feel they exist. When that lifelong mission to help people is disrupted, when doubt is placed on their expertise and competency, many medical specialists develop anxiety, depression, and may even begin to question their skills. The last thing any treating professional needs to think about is whether or not the verdict will also clean them out financially.

Living reactively is pretty exhausting. We hope you will consider letting us help you prepare for your future.

Sep 03

Human Errors Happen in Healthcare More Often Than You Think

Medicine doctor's working place. Focus on stethoscope, doctor's hands typing something on background. Healthcare and medical concept. Copyspace

Your coworker shows up hung over. No crime… They’re not legally drunk. You both laugh about her adventure from the night before and go about your day. She’s merely tired you tell yourself.

Your favorite dietician you adore working with was up all night with her newborn son. She rubs her eyes as she blearily grabs the chart of the first patient lined up in the examination room.

Another one of the therapists you regularly interact with is going through a divorce. You admire her resolve to stay professional and keep it together, although she does seem distracted at various times throughout the day.

Overall, you feel pretty good about the crew you work with, and while you hate to think about the possibilities of what could go wrong, you know you work for a reputable company and they have insurance for a reason. You’re covered, you think, even if something goes wrong. And nothing will, the mantra plays in your head throughout the day and makes you feel better.

You reason you’re not responsible for another person’s actions anyway. You’re not their manager.

Much in the same way you would stop one of your friends from driving while buzzed, or drunk, you actually are responsible. If you are aware there are issues with a coworker who seems to be struggling, and who might have made minor errors throughout the day, you need to report it. Even if the two of you are friendly, you still must speak up so a more grievous mistake can be avoided. But how many people really ring the alarm? How many people choose instead to ignore risky situations, hoping nothing terrible happens?

Forget about being tired, hung over, stressed, or sick. What about the percentage of human error? It happens. You’ve made a mistake. We’ve all made mistakes. We’re not robots after all. And it is highly likely in the event of a mishap you were witness to that you would be seen as a party who contributed.
You can remove your part of the risk when you have the appropriate coverage. Then all that’s left to do is the right thing. You’ve removed the worry about how a wrong turn in the course of taking care of a patient can affect you.

Jul 08

Preventing a False Malpractice Claim

middle aged male therapist consulting female patient in office

Many times in a mental health, we as professionals experience encounters with patients who perceived slights against them when in reality, there is no real threats to fear. Whether due to an inability to properly comprehend reality, or done intentionally to cause a problem, there are many documented cases of patients who file a regulatory claim against their mental or allied health care provider which does not hold water. That said, even a false malpractice claim can smear one’s professional reputation, cause a loss of trust in clients and staff, and cost a provider thousands in legal expenses to clear up.
The good news is that if a provider carries the proper liability insurance coverage, they’re likely protected, even if the claimant receives an ill-gained settlement for legal expenses. In reality, once a claim has been filed, the ability to control its course is out of your hands as a professional, and so, the advice offered here will center on preventing these claims from occurring, and how to secure proper protection for your practice.


Prevention of False Claims


Being able to prove innocence once a false malpractice claim is filed can be very difficult, if not impossible, while preventing the problem is measurably simpler and more effective. Steps for avoiding the liability nightmare of a false claim include:

  • Documentation of intentions, as a privacy agreement/patient agreement, which can be prepared internally or written by an attorney, can help to avoid a patient who claims they are being charged for services which were not provided, or that they were not informed of costs, service limitations, and confidentiality requirements from the start.
  • Keep on documenting! Every interaction with a client could prove to be important to the eventuality of a malpractice claim, should one be filed. Having accurate visit notes, including notations of any accusatory or suspicious behavior, payment compliance issues, failure to fill or take prescriptions, or threats can prove invaluable during the claim process.
  • Manage patient expectations by remaining honest and upfront with clients about their situation without giving false promises when the professional isn’t sure they can fix the problem they’re facing.
  • Know when to back off, because sometimes, a client is simply too sensitive to receive further constructive criticism. Perceived slight is enough to cause some problem clients to desire revenge by way of false accusation.
  • Notify a client when there is a problem of any kind, and document the conversation in the patient’s visit notes. If  it is necessary, report the patient using the local resources and alert emergency medical personnel if they display behaviors that concern the safety of himself or another person.

Aside from these basic avoidance, little can be done if an irrational or irate client decides to file a false claim against a mental health professional.The best way to face a malpractice claim is to remain calm, never becoming aggressive or angry with the patient. Insurance is the best way to protect a mental health professional from a malpractice claim, and following these simple steps may help to prevent the problem from escalating may help to avoid the claim being filed in the first place. CPH & Associates offers guidance about the types of coverage needed by all mental and allied health professionals. You can get more information on the services they offer this industry here.

Jun 27

Sanity Saving Coverage

middle aged female psychologist making note while patient talking

It’s no surprise that Mental Health and Allied Health professionals are among those targeted most frequently in misconduct and malpractice lawsuits. The patients that utilize mental and allied health services open up to their providers on a very personal and vulnerable level, one that exposes the professional to the every-present risk of a professional liability nightmare. As a professional in one of these industries, one must ask themselves “Am I covered in the event of a patient complaint?”

Common Complaints

The most common types of liability lawsuits filed against metal and allied health professionals include:

  • Breach of Provider/Patient Confidentiality
  • Liability for acts a patients’ acts when based on providers’ recommendations
  • Dual Relationships
  • Real or fictitious regulatory board claims by disgruntled former patients
  • Sexual harassment/Conflict of interest


Protecting Your Practice

Little can be done once a complaint is filed, especially if a provider doesn’t already carry liability insurance for their practice. If proper insurance coverage is in place, the costs of legal defense and fixing the situation will be significantly reduced or eliminated, and your business will likely survive the fallout of the situation. Without insurance, the cost of legal and medical bills, as well as loss of business due to negative publicity, could end up costing thousands, and even close a practice for good.

Any provider can learn updates to your coverage needs, including the latest industry standards, by choosing to work with a dedicated insurance agent who provides more than just policies. If they select a provider through CPH & Associates, one of the leading names in Mental/Allied Health Liability Insurance, access is granted to resources including a monthly “Avoiding Liability” newsletter, and a helpline to call for insight into potential liability claims.

Getting Covered Is Easy

CPH & Associates offers the easiest access on the web to all the insurance resources a mental or allied health professional needs. With experts available to assist with every step of the process, a provider can be matched with the liability insurance they need to feel protected, no matter what situation arises. In this field, every day is a surprise and a challenge, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for whatever comes your way. Get an instant quote here, because every appointment on your calendar is a potential liability lawsuit. Are you protected?

Jun 25

How to Identify an Emotionally Abusive Patient

Angry couple arguing

All mental and allied health care providers seek to recognize the root of their patients distress, as a means to help them maintain functional, healthy lifestyles. Often this is easier said than done, since the degree and root of emotional issues can vary greatly, and patients are often hesitant to admit when their problems are causing them to be emotionally abuse to a loved one.


Emotional abuse can occur in children and adults, and can often be described as “bullying” when juveniles are evaluated. Sometimes exhibited by those who also suffer from a psychological disorder, the indicators of emotional abuse can be present in a patient who exhibits a number of different signs. With the use of specific, proven criteria, mental health professionals can identify when emotional abuse is ongoing, even if the patient is reluctant to volunteer the information, or unaware of the wrongfulness of their actions.


Emotional abuse is defined as “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth,” and is also commonly referred to as Psychological Abuse and/or Chronic Verbal Aggression. Emotional abuse, short or long term, can lead to depression, low self-esteem, personality changes, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts and actions. Unlike other forms of abuse, emotional abuse develops a cyclical pattern, starting with one partner who exhibits abusive behavior, many times to show dominance, but then develops internal guilt about their reprehensible actions.


The Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Yelling and Swearing
  • Demeaning someone based on their language, race, religion, sexuality, or other trait
  • Excessive criticism
  • Threats of violence, abandonment, starvation, medical care
  • Name Calling, Insults, lies, withholding important information
  • Intimidation, blackmail, slander
  • Isolation of self or loved one
  • Humiliation, mocking
  • Denial of the abuse/blaming the victim


Abusers of this kind will almost never voluntarily recognize their degree of aggression, and often make excuses or blame their victim for their own behaviors. Once an episode of abuse is over, the abuser resumes his or her “normal” behavior and may even be generously apologetic to their victim. The abuser then resumes fantasizing about emotionally abusing their partner again, and the cycle repeats when an opportunity arises. If you recognize your patient is emotionally abusive, or the victim of emotional abuse, the situation must be immediately addressed to avoid escalation of the abuse. Recommending separation, therapy, and anger management classes can effectively help to combat your patients abuse traits, allowing them to remain in control of their actions and prevent future episodes of emotional abuse.


Jun 18

How WellFit Pros Celebrate World Yoga Day

Yogis and students, did you know that this Sunday, September 20th, 2015, is World Yoga Day? The practice of Yoga has long been touted the most universal method to attaining overall health and mental wellbeing. On Sunday, beginners and experts alike will enjoy a day which has been set aside to recognize the importance of our craft and its benefits. While there are certainly celebrations taking place worldwide, to include retreats, gatherings, and other events, taking advantage of World Yoga Day is about much more than simply coming together with other students to connect for Yoga’s sake.

Inspiring New Yogis

This is a day when a Yoga instructor must focus on spreading their gift and generating a buzz about the practice to inspire those who may not even know the child’s pose. Utilizing social media, you can create conversation and spread word of World Yoga Day to your followers, and asking them to share your post will not only help it reach a potential Yogi-to-be, but will also benefit your business. Try to create a post that inspires sharing, whether you utilize a quotation or photo that begs to be retweeted, or a contest that your students can share with their Facebook friends.  Getting your students excited about their practice will lead them to share the peace and strength they have developed with their friends and families, who will, hopefully, embrace a practice of their own in your class!

Spreading Inner Peace

So many days we drive about and never stop to recognize the struggle in the life of those who surround us. On World Yoga Day, spread the gift that your practice has bestowed on you, and commit to inspiring acts of random Yoga. Perhaps you start by creating a photo challenge for your Instagram followers, or hang a sign outside your studio that offers for curious passersby to stop in for a demonstration. Whatever you do, remember that teaching Yoga is more than a job; it’s a commitment to sharing your love of inner peace and overall health-consciousness with the world, one student at a time.

Re-focusing Your Own Practice

Use World Yoga Day for your own well-being, to re-define your goals and evaluate your personal practice. Take time to feel gratitude for the clientele and environment that’s been cultivated, and find balance in your business protocols. Part of protecting your students and your business includes ensuring you are covered in the event that a student is injured while attending your class. If you’re not sure that enough coverage is in place, CPH & Associates is currently offering immediate quotes for WellFit Professionals. Their specialized fitness liability insurance is written to fit the specific needs of wellness minded business owners and their employees. Find out what they have to offer for your Yoga practice, and remember to say “Namaste!” on World Yoga Day!

May 28

Let’s Do Bench Press!

Weightlifting, Bench Press, Health, Fitness, BeginnerA few weeks ago, we featured some information about the importance and benefits of strength training in your workout routine. We mentioned that lifting weights can help you lose, and keep off unwanted fat, help your joints become stronger and more resistant to energy, and overall, contribute to a more complete level of your own personal fitness.

However, with weight training, much as is the case with most fitness exercises, proper mechanics and proper form could mean the difference between a good workout and an accident waiting to happen. Weight training, especially with free weights such as barbells, dumbbells and kettle bells is all about proper form — after all, as you increase your workload and weight, bad habits and improper lifting techniques can magnify the stress put onto joints overcompensating for the uneven weight distribution, and eventually, lead to injury.

If you are thinking about adding weight training to your fitness routine, one of the cornerstone exercises of weightlifting is the bench press. There are a few variations of the bench press, such as the incline press, the decline press, and the military press, which is more for your shoulders than pectorals muscles.

Settling In

If you are just starting out, let’s start with the simple, flat-bench, barbell press. If you’ve never done the exercise before, make sure to use a spotter, and grab a personal trainer if possible. The bar can be a little difficult to balance for someone not used to it, even with small weights. Keep in mind that a bar with no weights does not equal to 0 pounds! Most gym “Olympic” bars weigh approximately 45 pounds, so any weight you slide onto the ends would be in addition to that. For example, a barbell with 2 25-pound weights on each side would weigh 95 pounds. Don’t be embarrassed doing a few sets with just the bar — 45 pounds is a decent weight for a beginner, and getting the form right without weights will cement the right mechanics.


This seems like the most obvious direction there is, but a surprising amount of people get this wrong — put an equal amount of weights on both sides of the bar! While most people would not intentionally rack up an uneven load, not keeping track of how much weight you put on or take off from set to set, especially in a busy gym can leave your bench press with an extra 5 or 10 on one side. So, check and double-check! Be sure to secure the weights down with a weight clamp — these can be found in pretty much any gym. Keep in mind that it is hard to balance the bar, especially for beginners, so keeping the weights secured will make sure they don’t slide off in the middle of a set, and make for quite a dangerous and, not to mention, embarrassing situation.

May 26

You May be Fit, But Are You Military-Fit?

Military, Boot Camp, Memorial Day, Health, FitnessOk, so the term “Boot Camp” is now used for a variety of non-military exercise routines at your local gyms or former warehouses converted into trendy CrossFit fitness meccas. The appeal of the workouts come from the association with an actual Boot Camp, a proverbial test of fitness, health and sheer wheel that almost all military recruits go through prior to becoming members of the military.

It is that test of will, endurance and fitness that has such an appeal among the public who sign up for those Boot Camp classes. While celebrating Memorial Day yesterday, we wanted to see how an actual military Boot Camp functions, what exercises are used, and what level of fitness must a recruit be at in order to get through the gauntlet of the US Military’s grueling physical and mental test.

Prior to going through Boot Camp, the US Military branches administer what is called the Personal Fitness Test, or PFT for short.

In order to prepare for the test, every recruit has to master the Pull-Up, The Push-Up, the Sit-Up and endurance running, primarily in form of the 1.5 to 5 mile run.


If you can do 49 push-ups in 2 minutes, 6 pull-ups, 59 sit-ups in 2 minutes, you may be on your way to admittance to Ranger school. Keep in mind, you’ll also have to complete a 2 mile run in 15:12, a 5 mile run in under 40:00, a 16 mile hike in full gear (65 lbs) and a 15 meter swim with gear.


To be admitted into the Navy’s Boot Camp, and stay in the Navy, you’ll have to pass a bi-annual test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 1.5 mile run. The run can be substituted with a 500 meter swim.

Air Force

Want to get into the Air Force? You’ll have to brush up on your push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 2 mile run. A similar test to the Navy’s fitness test featuring push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 1.5 mile run is administered once a year for all personnel.


The Marines are tested on flexibility, strength and endurance with a test featuring push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 3 mile run. Male Marines are tested on the “dead hang” pull-up, requring that the arm be totally extended, while female Marines are tested on the “flex arm hang,” allowing to maintain a slight bend at the elbow. The test is also administered every six months.

Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard abides by the Navy PFT, with additional swimming and diving tests.

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