Richard Lovering quoted in ED Legal Letter

Firm News

Bricker & Eckler partner Richard Lovering added his insight to the article “EPs Face These Legal Risks if Discharging Psych Patient” in the March 2013 edition of ED Legal Letter.

The article examines liability for emergency physicians (EPs) who treat and release potentially ‘dangerous’ patients who end up doing harm to others. Recent mass shootings, and the resulting lawsuits, have brought this issue to the forefront in the medical community. Psychiatrists have been sued for failing to prevent one of their patients from harming others. Could the same happen if an EP discharges a potentially “dangerous” patient?

Despite HIPAA laws, notification to the authorities may be the answer. “Although the law has not changed, I think the legal environment has changed,” Lovering says in the article.

Citing a January 2013 letter from the Department of Health & Human Services Secretary, Lovering states, “The Department of Health & Human Services has gone out of its way to notify the health care community, including ER physicians and staff, that HIPAA does not prohibit taking steps to protect potential victims of patient threats or imminent harm.” Lovering notes that it would be easier to defend an EP driven by concern for community safety than to defend an EP after a public tragedy.

Want more information? Read the full text of the article here.

Source: ED Legal Newsletter, published by AHC Media in Atlanta. Phone: 800.688.2421. Email: Web:

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