It may be interesting to note legal decisions that may or may not exculpate mental health professionals (psychiatrists, clinical psychologists/social workers) from the duty to warn third parties of imminent harm (1). These range from the Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California to the Brady v. Hopper (an appeal by victims of the attempted assassination of the late former President Ronald Reagan in 1981 by John Hinckley, Jr.) cases (authorities or binding) and persuasive (dicta, or non-binding) court decisions. However, these professionals in particular are our guardians and must protect society from reasonably foreseeable physical harms just as health care professionals, in comparison, are responsible for warning us of the risk of an epidemic/pandemic outbreak caused by the prevalence in the community of a pathological micro-organism.
1) 751 F.2d 329: James Scott Brady, Timothy John McCarthy, and Thomas K. Delahanty, Plaintiffs-appellants, v. John J. Hopper, Jr., M.D., Defendant-Appellee
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit. – 751 F.2d 329
Dec. 27, 1984
Last accessed June 26, 2014.