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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Is it ethical for a psychiatrist to ask for and take a $75,000

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Is it ethical for a psychiatrist to ask for and take a $75,000 loan from a patient? And then not make any effort to pay it back since the patient-psychiatrist relationship was ended over 10 years ago?

Dr. Z :

Hello

Dr. Z :

I believe I can help you with your question

Dr. Z :

What you are describing is very unethical and is most likely against the law in most states. The psychiatrist can not ethically ask for a loan from a patient that is for sure and some psychiatrists and psychologists have had their licenses stripped away because of this behavior.

Dr. Z :

In addition, this can be against the law in many instances as coercion because the patients are in a fragile position of trusting their psychiatrist and that psychiatrist can use that to their advantage in a deceitful manner

Dr. Z :

This can be considered theft, although I am not sure of the exact legal terminology describing this as I am not a lawyer, but I am positive this is against the law.

Customer:

What should I do? I really need the money as I have two children and I'm disabled right now?

Dr. Z :

Are you the patient or psychiatrist in this case?

Dr. Z :

Oh by the way I have heard of psychiatrists being charged and convicted of embezzlement in similar cases that was the legal term I was looking for.

Customer:

I am the patient. This was a somewhat complicated situation in that the psychiatrist had just lost her license and I gave her the money to appeal the decision of the CA Medical Board. She since won her appeal and has had her license reinstated

Customer:

Technically at the time she asked me for money she was not licensed as a psychiatrist

Dr. Z :

If this was a legal loan, then you can hire an attorney to get back the money through a payment plan. Most likely the psychiatrist will not want to go to court over this and risk losing her license again. In California they are more apt to be on the patient's side regarding this issue.

Dr. Z :

Still she asked a former patient and that is still unethical whether she is practicing or not.

Dr. Z :

It is a very gray area and either way you have the law on your side regarding this matter.

Customer:

What do you mean by a legal loan?

Dr. Z :

Well since you specified that this was a loan and you either made a verbal or written contract, which are both legal in California, with the stipulation that she would pay you back that states it is a legal loan. Now if you gave the money as a gift though, then it would not be a legal loan. Again I think consulting with an attorney over this matter is vital for you as what she did was unethical and against the law. She most likely will not want to see a courtroom and she will settle because she will not want to put her license at risk again.

Customer:

I apologize that was actually a dumb question I know what you mean

Dr. Z :

Even if she did get her license reinstated, odds are it is on a probationary status which means she is under closer scrutiny from the medical board.

Dr. Z :

Its okay, you do not have to apologize at all

Customer:

She is no longer on probation as her license was reinstated in 2006 and she took a position at a small eating disorders hospital in 2007 and she's been working there as the psychiatric medical director ever since. I am nervous about contacting her because she was able to manipulate me into giving her the loan at the time and I'm afraid she will attempt to manipulate me again because of the prior patient-psychiatrist relationship... do you think it makes any sense to go to the Medical Board directly without having contact with her first?

Dr. Z :

I completely understand what you mean about manipulation and I do not believe that you should not contact her directly. I think it would be better to go to an attorney first and possibly sue to get the money back. If you notify the medical board, they do no have the legal capacity to get your money back, but a civil court judge does. Or your attorney can do both sue and contact the medical board on your behalf, that would be a good strategy for you

Customer:

I don't want to be a jerk about it, but I am disturbed that she has not attempted to contact me since she began working 6 years ago and earning a salary again, whereas I have been unable to work all this time and no longer have any money to hire a lawyer because I'm disabled by PTSD

Dr. Z :

I agree, some attorneys will take your case on contingency, which means they will not get paid unless you get paid, so you can call and ask for an attorney that does that. If that does not work, then yes contacting the medical board would be the best option for you. You are not being a jerk at all, you are struggling right now and this professional used her relationship to take advantage of you.

Customer:

Ironically I am a lawyer but in the entertainment field... thank you very much for your answers to my questions, especially as to whether I am ethically obligated to contact her before I take any action, under the circumstances, or rather, go directly to the Medical Board. I greatly appreciate your help.

Dr. Z :

Anytime I am always happy to help, I wish you the best of luck and I am so sorry that this professional took advantage of you and chose not to pay you back, I hope you get your money back with interest. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Customer:

I will and thanks again.

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