Patient psychiatrist privilege
The patient psychiatrist privilege does exist in Georgia. To claim the privilege under OCGA 24-9-21 (5) the patient must voluntarily seek the assistance of the psychiatrist. This creates a confidential relationship. That a patient seeks to recover damages for mental and emotional injuries as a plaintiff in a civil case for personal injuries does not constitute a waiver under OCGA 24-9-40. In very rare cases however, when some fundamental constitutional right is at stake, the privilege may yield to the constitutional right. A party waives the psychiatric privilege when the party calls his or her psychiatrist to testify at trial on the party’s behalf when the mental status of the parties at issue. Moreover, where the psychiatrist or mental health workers consulted for evaluation and testimony rather than treatment or appointed by the court for such purpose, no privileged relationship arises as protected under the act. Defendant may obtain portions of the plaintiff’s records that might contain privileged information, if the privileged information is deleted. For example, a record of comments made to a nurse at a mental health unit would not come under the patient psychiatrist privilege unless the nurse was an agent of the psychiatrist. The discovering party may be able to obtain any records that do not have privileged communications. Any communication not made to a psychiatrist or one of his agents would not be privileged. Obtaining information from medical records however, would still be subject to federal HIPPA requirements. To determine what is protected and what is not protected at state law, the trial court should you in in camera inspection and only make available for discovery what does not involve communications with the psychiatrist or psychologist or their agents.Contact an Atlanta DUI lawyer today to help you with your case.