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Liability Issues for Therapists Who Offer Distance Therapy

22. January 2014 08:39

Therapist hosts video conference session.

Phones, email, videoconferencing, and developing technologies make it easier for therapists and other mental health professionals to remotely treat clients who would otherwise be unreachable, such as…

The U.S. Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administrations estimate that about 80 million Americans live in an area where professional mental health services are not readily available.

Combine this fact with the new ACA mental health benefits requirements and our society's general trend toward electronic communication, and it should come as no surprise that the number of therapists who offer distance therapy is on the rise. Unfortunately, so are their liability exposures.

Before your mental health practice adds distance therapy to its list of services, consider the following:

The bottom line is this: Distance therapy increases your risk for Malpractice / Professional Liability claims and lawsuits — whether it's because you've accidentally violated compliance laws or HIPAA regulations, or because you failed to meet a client's expectations.

For more information about HIPPA and Professional Liability, check out our blog post, "Pharmacist Found Liable for $1.44 Million in HIPAA Professional Liability Case."

Telepractice and Professional Liability Risk: Tips for Therapists and other Mental Health Professionals

Because it is still a fairly new practice, the laws regarding distance therapy — also known as telepractice, telepyschology, and telehealth services — are still being developed. Until recently, there weren't even many professional guidelines on the subject — The American Psychological Association (APA) just adopted its Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology in July of last year.

And while professional guidelines are always a great resource, they do not (and could not) specifically address the nuances your local laws. With that in mind, the APA recommends that mental health professionals stay up to date on the latest information by:

You can also check out "Affordable Care Act: Tips to Prevent Malpractice Suits for Your Medical Practice" for some general suggestions regarding Professional Liability risk.

know your business risks


Allied Health Insurance | Errors & Omissions | Errors and Omissions Insurance | HIPAA | Malpractice Insurance

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