Forensic assessment differs from forensic assessment in the respect that in clinical assessment the patient mostly poses hi/her own questions regarding diagnosis, progress and treatment etc, while in forensic evaluation the patient himself doesn’t come to the psychiatrist, instead he/ she is ordered by the Court or advised by their attorney to assist the psychiatric evaluation in their legal proceedings.
These type of circumstances create a controversial relationship between the forensic psychiatrist and the evaluee. So it is in this type of situation that a clear note of ethical values comes in handy and is always good to be kept in mind.
Confidentiality: The first and foremost ethical value which should be taken care of is an individual’s right of privacy. It is necessary on the psychiatrist to maintain patient’s confidentiality under all circumstances while performing an evaluation. But of course this rule too should be followed within the legal limits and confidentiality is only kept as far as the law allows.
Apart from that any report or information is subjected to the rule of confidentiality and any unnecessary or harmful disclosure is strictly prohibited.
Consent: When possible, the informed consent of the subject to be evaluated should always be obtained. There are exceptions such as when the evaluee is not competent for giving the consent, In case of emergency treatment or short notice legal orders etc. Is such cases however the evaluee should be informed of the nature of emergency, jurisdiction and the Court orders.
In the situations where the evaluee refuses to co-operate despite the Court orders, it should be mentioned in the repot and given to the proper authorities. The psychiatrist however should be aware of the evaluee’s right to refuse evaluation in these cases.
Objectivity and honesty: As part of a legal jurisdiction system, a forensic psychiatrist may have to deal with the prosecution or the defense in aces. So naturally in any circumstances the psychiatrist is always expected to stay neutral and not apply any of his/her own beliefs and principles in the process.
The psychiatrist should strictly stick to technical application of forensic therapies. In many cases the psychiatrist may also be asked to deal with bot the parties. In such case the sharing of information and what to be shared should be dealt with strict honesty and objectivity under all circumstances.
Qualification: In forensic evaluations, it is considered unethical for a psychiatrist of lower qualification to conduct evaluation on any subject requiring higher level of qualification and this should be avoided.