Tarasoff decision

A landmark court decision in California, which holds a mental health therapist responsible for being pro-active in preventing harm by a particular patient, if the therapist knows or has reason to suspect that that patient may present a risk of harm to a specific person or persons

Tarasoff decision

Psychiatry A California decision that imposes a duty on a therapist to warn appropriate person(s) when she becomes aware that a Pt may present a risk of harm to a specific person or persons. See Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California
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Psychiatrists might believe they are required to do so because of the apparent similarity between reporting a past crime and the public protection obligation associated with the Tarasoff decision. Tarasoff imposes potential malpractice liability on a therapist who fails to act reasonably to avert a patient's future dangerous actions.
This serves to mitigate the effect of the Tarasoff decision.
An alternative to the traditional negligence analysis combines the type of analysis in Myers with the Tarasoff decision. If a doctor has not advised a patient of the pre-cautions to take, the doctor may be subjected to more expanded liability on the basis of duty to warn under Tarasoff.
The Tarasoff decision has since been extended by at least 12 states and several federal jurisdictions to include violent acts against persons in close relationship to an identified victim," against property, (9) and when therapists "should have known" danger existed.
On this question the courts, in contrast to the controversy over civil liability which followed the Tarasoff decision, have been silent.
Many practitioners have misunderstood the famed Tarasoff decision of the California Supreme Court--which did not, contrary to popular belief, create a "duty to warn." Also, it is important to distinguish between what may be done to satisfy the applicable duty and what must be done in order to be "immune from liability." This area of the law can be tricky, and state law varies in fine nuance.
The State of California was still struggling with the Tarasoff decision as late as 1985.
For instance, the Tarasoff decisions in the mid-1970s have had an impact on the counseling profession by requiring counselors to warn authorities or third parties outside of the counseling relationship of potential danger from a client.