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By Dr Ashok G Patel and
Dr Haider Malik
Last updated: December 2013
This module, the first in a two-part
series, contains guidance on how harm to patients and
psychiatrists can be prevented. The harm can be psychological,
professional or involve damage to the reputation of a service
or medical profession.
The focus of this module is on the relationships of
psychiatrists with patients, their carers and
families. Psychiatrists must be prepared to justify what they
do in their practice, including in circumstances where breaches
of confidentiality may be appropriate (GMC, 2009).
It is of particular importance to maintain a
high standard of practice, conduct and vigilance with regards to
vulnerable children and adults. In the changing social context of
medical practice, there is a shift towards doctors proving that
they maintain trust as opposed to previous 'systems' where trust
was assumed. Psychiatrists must be aware of and comply with equal
opportunities legislation and work to ensure that their practice is
Most of the dilemmas faced by
psychiatrists exist because of uncertainty, and this is where
the need to justify at all times is so important. To be a good
psychiatrist, one needs to be able to live with a degree of
uncertainty and appreciate that there are rarely right and wrong
If you like this module, you may also be
Probity in professional practice: Part 2 by Dr
Ashok Patel and Dr Haider Malik
Avoiding clinical bias in psychiatry by Prasanna
N. de Silva
Abuse of the Doctor-Patient Relationship (book from RCPsych
Download take-home notes to print and
An electronic handbook is available with these modules,
containing vignettes and FAQs relevant to professional
View the handbook