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Bappelman, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Former Public Defender, Founder and Criminal Defense Attorney at Appelman Criminal Defense LLC.
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What is the law in the state of Vermont regarding a health

Resolved Question:

What is the law in the state of Vermont regarding a health care professional reporting serious threats of suicide superceeding the HIPPA right to privacy?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Bappelman replied 8 years ago.
Hello LawLady,

Under the case law from a federal case from California, Tarasoff v Regents of University of California, a health care professional must report about an impending act of violence.

This case has been interpreted by many courts and it has reached into the area of protecting people from suicidal actions:

The duty to protect sometimes extends to protecting patients from themselves. Courts usually recognize that suicide cannot be well predicted, however, professionals have been held liable when they ignored or failed to assess indicators of suicide. Courts usually consider two fundamental issues: (a) did the professional adequately assess the likelihood that a patient was suicidal? and, (b) if an identifiable risk of harm was determined, did the professional take sufficient precautions to prevent suicide? In general, the therapist is protected from liability if they have conscientiously performed and documented a thorough evaluation, followed by carefully considered, appropriate interventions.


In every state a therapist who firmly believes that a patient is suicidal can breach confidentiality to protect the patient from harm.

I hope this answers your question.

Good luck.
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