Forensic Psychiatric and Psychological Evaluations
Forensic Psychiatry and Forensic Psychology are core competencies at Psychological Associates, P.A. Forensic evaluations involve using our expertise regarding mental health to provide expert written reports and testimony for legal purposes. The following are some of the forensic services we provide.
Independent Medical Examinations:
An Independent Medical Examination (IME) can be conducted for a variety of purposes. For example, an IME can be performed for legal purposes, to get a second opinion about diagnosis or treatment, to determine suitability for specific types of employment, to determine readiness to return to work, or evaluate possible impairments with specific tasks. An IME is not the same as a psychiatric evaluation used to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan. An IME is used to answer specific questions, which may include diagnosis or treatment, but may also require very specialized examination techniques outside the scope of the usual psychiatric evaluation. IME’s are usually not covered by health insurance, although an insurance company may pay for an IME if they request the examination. IME’s are usually one-time examinations (although the examination may take place over one or more dates). A report is written and submitted to the court or attorney who requested the evaluation. The conduction of an IME does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship, and the doctor performing the IME does not provide on-going treatment for the examinee.
A disability examination is a specialized evaluation to determine the level of functional impairment. During the examination, information about the examinee’s emotional and behavior symptoms is obtained, and a mental status examination is performed. If applicable, a diagnosis is determined and a treatment plan is proposed. The functional impairment is determined according to criteria set by the Social Security Administration, or other criteria that may be set by insurance or state agencies. The actual determination of “disabled” is made by the Social Security Administration or other government agency, based on information from many sources including disability examinations. Disability examinations are usually not covered by health insurance, although an insurance company or government agency may pay for the disability examination if they request it. A report is written and submitted to the agency or attorney who requested the evaluation.
An examination of a defendant or a plaintiff is almost always requested by the court or by an attorney. The is almost always a specific legal question involved, for example, is a defendant competent to proceed in a criminal trial. The doctor attempts to answer the legal questions using criteria specified in the laws and regulations. During the examination, information about the examinee’s emotional and behavior symptoms is obtained, and a mental status examination is performed. If applicable, a diagnosis is determined and a treatment plan is proposed. A report is written and submitted to the court or attorney who requested the evaluation.
Often, an understanding of the emotional state or mental health of a victim can be very helpful to an attorney, court, or insurance company involved in a case. Sometimes a victim may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other psychiatric disorders as a result of a crime or accident. During an evaluation of a victim, information about the examinee’s emotional and behavior symptoms is obtained, and a mental status examination is performed. If applicable, a diagnosis is determined and a treatment plan is proposed.
Parent’s separation and divorce is usually a very stressful series of events for children. In some divorce situations, the mother and father each believe that the children would do best with themselves rather than their spouse. This can lead to a custody dispute, which requires the a judge’s decision. A custody evaluation can provide information to the court to help the judge decide with which parent the children would live. Optimally, a custody evaluation is actually a series of several separate evaluations. Each parent and child are evaluated separately. Also, the children may be interviewed with each parents. Psychological testing may be given to provide more complete information. A custody evaluation may also be performed in situations were there has been suspected child abuse or neglect.
A psychiatric or psychological expert is required to do much more than “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in court or during deposition. During testimony, an expert must be able to testify precisely and accurately about the “standard of care” that may apply in a particular case. The “standard of care” involves understanding the processes of diagnosis and treatment planning that is performed by the community of psychiatrists and psychologists, including current research and standards developed by professional groups. An expert should be able to explain mental health concepts and standards in a manner easily understandable by any one without psychiatric or psychological training. An expert should be able to maintain clarity and accuracy during cross-examination by an opposing attorney who may attempt to discredit the expert.