Interesting post MichaelRack. I'll have to check out that article. I believe the APA does state not to comment on celebirty cases unless disclosure is allowed by that celebirty. If you choose not to follow that, you are an attending, with more years of experience than I have. You may also know something I don't. I also have seen several attendings rightfully criticize some of the APA's practices & political stances. You wouldn't be the first attending I've seen who's decided to not follow some of the policies of an established institution, and I don't mean that as a criticism.
The Dr. Phil issue-yeah its wierd-as were several other cases where doctors did the "1000 mile diagnosis" as it was nicknamed when a particular politician who happened to also be a doctor made medical claims on a particular person he hadn't seen. (By the way, with very very bad results-turned out his diagnosis & prognosis were completely off, and he used his Dx & Rx in a political manner to disrupt the intended Rx the caretaker wanted).
I'm working with a forensic attending today. I'll ask her. Until then, at least for myself, I'll take the stance that Phil Resnick takes: not to comment on issues that require "standard of care" practice if you haven't done that standard, even on high profile cases. Not just to keep myself safe, but also because with few exceptions, I do agree with this policy.
Only exception I have with this policy is I believe mental health providers should be able to talk about such cases among ourselves for intellectual & academic purposes. We know that we haven't seen the specific person in question, and we know we do not mean to comment on it as if we are practicing the standard of care, and we're not trying to sway any public opinions. (even then I will only discuss it in a highly controlled manner which probably wouldn't violate the policy anyway). Being on this board--while its intent is to accomplish that, it is frequented by several non mental health providers. Several on the board have identified themselves as patients, and it is accessible to the public.
If you type "dr phil confidentiality" in a google search, you'll get several hits with articles questioning Dr. Phil's handling of this case. Several are criticizing him & claming he breached confidentiality. I don't know if there are any differing standards in this regard between a psychologist vs a psychiatrist. I have heard there are some, but an anectdotal rumor is poor explanation, especially among professionals.
As for saving a person in a restaurant--you can still be sued. Anyone can be sued for anything. Someone doesn't like the color of my hair? They can sue me. However given the precedence that the good samaritan policy has now set, if you were sued because of the results of a good samaritan act, the odds of the case being thrown out or you winning are dramatically higher. It'd be to the point where someone wanting to throw such a lawsuit would also have a higher likelihood of having their lawyer reccomend not to sue.