PMID: 5909640Apr 1, 1966

Privileged communications. The effect of California's new evidence code as it concerns physicians and psychotherapists

California Medicine
T A GondaD N MacIntosh


A physician has an ethical duty to hold in confidence communications made to him by his patient. A legal recognition of this ethical duty is found in the concept of privilege, which is the subject of this article. January 1967 will bring to California physicians a new protection for patients' communications. The physician-patient privilege has been redefined to include confidential communications made during diagnostic evaluation, those made to non-licensed physicians, interns and medical aides, and those overheard by eavesdroppers. There has been added a psychotherapist-patient privilege designed to facilitate communications required in psychotherapy as well as in behavioral research. This paper first presents a brief historical background and discusses the protections and limitations afforded by the new California Evidence Code. There follows a section on the psychotherapist-patient privilege with the recommendation that in the context of psychotherapy, patients of physicians who are not psychiatrists should be afforded the additional benefits of the psychotherapist-patient privilege. Lastly, advice is given concerning the physician's conduct in relation to his duty to claim privilege under the new code.

Related Concepts

Ethics, Medical
Physician-Patient Relations

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