by Donna Vanderpool, MBA, JD

Ms. Vanderpool is Director of Risk Management at Professional Risk Management Services (PRMS).

Funding: No funding was provided for the preparation of this article.

Disclosures: The author is an employee of PRMS. PRMS manages a professional liability insurance program for psychiatrists.

Innov Clin Neurosci. 2023;20(10–12):48.

This ongoing column is dedicated to providing information to our readers on managing legal risks associated with medical practice. We invite questions from our readers. The answers are provided by PRMS (, a manager of medical professional liability insurance programs with services that include risk management consultation and other resources offered to health care providers to help improve patient outcomes and reduce professional liability risk. The answers published in this column represent those of only one risk management consulting company. Other risk management consulting companies or insurance carriers might provide different advice, and readers should take this into consideration. The information in this column does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, contact your personal attorney. Note: The information and recommendations in this article are applicable to physicians and other health care professionals so “clinician” is used to indicate all treatment team members.

Test your knowledge of clinical risk management! Once you have answered the questions below, click here to review the suggested answers and risk management comments.


  1. True or False: When treating a minor patient of divorced or separated parents, clinicians should obtain a copy of the portion of the custody agreement pertaining to who has authority to consent to medical treatment.
  2. True or False: Lawsuits against psychiatrists most often involve suicides, attempted suicides, and medications.
  3. True or False: When a clinician receives a request for records from a health plan, they should always contact the patient to obtain authorization before releasing.
  4. True or False: When choosing a technology vendor for the purposes of telemedicine, clinicians should consider whether the vendor is willing to provide a Business Associate Agreement.
  5. True or False: Patients should be assured that their protected health information will always remain confidential.
  6. True or False: When prescribing a medication for an off-label use, a clinician should not only discuss the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment, but also the fact that it is being prescribed off-label and what that means.
  7. True or False: When a patient accrues a large outstanding balance, the best approach is to inform the patient that treatment will be put on hold until they can render payment for services provided.
  8. True or False: “No harm” contracts should not be relied upon as a guarantee of patient safety.
  9. True or False: Disgruntled patients often write negative online reviews which misrepresent treatment and deter prospective patients. One effective way to protect a clinician’s online reputation would be to have office staff occasionally post simulated positive reviews.
  10. True or False: One of your current patients has applied for a job that requires a federal security clearance. You receive a call from an investigator on behalf of the United States Office of Personnel Management. The investigator insists that they don’t need much of your time, they just have three questions regarding whether the patient has a condition which could impair their judgment or reliability when safeguarding classified information. You should provide this information.