If a patient confesses to a doctor or therapist about murder, are they obligated by law to tell the authorities?

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If a patient confesses to a doctor or therapist about murder, are they obligated by law to tell the authorities?

Asked on April 17, 2012 under Criminal Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The doctor-patient or therapist-patient privielge only applies to treatment between the patient and the health care practitioner. A murder committed by the patient does not fall within the patient's treatment and is not privileged.

In such a situation, such as if the patient is planning to harm a third person but has not done so yet, the health care practioner is legally obligated to advise law enforcement of the possibility of a crime to be committed by his or her patient.

Public policy mandates that crimes in this country be prevented where at all possible.


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