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testifying in court

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by Hurricane, Apr 5, 2007.

  1. Hurricane

    Hurricane Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Aug 14, 2005
    The Metroplex
    Anyone else have to do this as a resident? I had to do it for the first time today for a 90 day committment. It was cool, but a little unsettling to have my naive PGY1 self referred to as an "expert" in anything.
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  3. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    I've never seen a PGY-I testify in mental health court, though I have given statements to judges who have visited the unit to determine 90 day committments as well.

    I have attended Bellevue mental health court many times, and have always seen either an attending, or forensic fellow doing the testimony.
  4. alina_s

    alina_s Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 24, 2001
    Anasazi, you're lucky. I transferred out of one program and into another and in both, highly experienced interns get to testify, without ever having observed a hearing before.
  5. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    I guess I'm mistaken, but I thought a licensed physician had to testify, which would disqualify most interns. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to get such experienc early, though intern year might be a little TOO early. The majority of cases I've seen are relatively brief, and the judge tends to ask the psychiatrist similar questions that can be anticipated. Though, the courtroom stage could be an intimidating one, certainly more-so for a PGY-I.
  6. Milo

    Milo Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Court ordered evaluations with written reports and subsequent prn verbal testimony are a significant part of my residency training. 2-3 evaluations per week are not uncommon. The licensing question, as brought up by Sazi, is an issue.

    The way we handle it is by attaching an additional rider to the affidavit stating that the resident has obtained supervision with an attending psychiatrist with experience in forensic matters.

    It is a steep learning curve in the first year, no doubt about it. However, I think it is an outstanding experience to get early in residency.
  7. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    No doubt. I wasn't aware that you could have a rider on the affadavit. Great experience for you though.
  8. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    How many retention or med over objection cases have you "lost?"

    Just curious. I don't know the statistics but it seemed quite rare when I went to court.
  9. Hurricane

    Hurricane Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Aug 14, 2005
    The Metroplex
    I think it was a good experience. Our residency program circulates a list of info that you should have on hand when you testify, which made things go pretty smoothly. I can post it here if anyone wants.

    As for the licensing thing, when the state's atty was asking me to list my credentials, she asked if I either had my own license or was licensed through my training institution.

    Then the patient advocate objected to me being an expert, and the judge overruled her. Heh. :)

    Anyway, we "won." This was probably helped by the fact the patient was too paranoid to let the sheriffs bring her to court.
  10. Psychintern2006

    Psychintern2006 New Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Yes we have to testify in first year as such. It is in the probationary court. But we are always supervised and the testimony is in the probate court. It is kind of stressful, but the fact you are being supervised and representing your attending helps a little.
  11. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    In my own program you go to court about once every 2-4 weeks, mostly for patient commitment.

    The attendings do all the just watch, however I wouldn't be suprised if they allowed you to do it if you asked (I hadn't), but I'm also certain they wouldn't let you do it unless you were confident and they trusted your ability.

    IMHO after I saw enough of them, I could do it effectively on my own after my first year. Also agree with Sazi--first year may be cutting it a bit close. Of course it'd be a great learning experience but it could lead to a bad judgement due to lack of experience by the witness. If you're testifying as a first year and you are getting good supervision, I'm sure (or at least hope) your attending won't allow you to testify unless they properly guided you.

    After my first year, and after seeing a few attendings do it, I'm confident I could actually do a better job than some of the attendings I've worked with.

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