- Center for Ethical Practice - https://centerforethicalpractice.org -

Ethical Implications of Clinical PracticeUnder Virginia’s Laws

Each state has different laws that can affect clinical practice.  This workshop focuses on the laws and regulations that affect Virginia mental health professionals.  What are the laws that help us protect the confidentiality of patient information?  What laws might limit our ability to protect confidentiality?  What other laws can place limitations on how we practice?  What are our ethical responsibilities in response to the laws in our state?


Relationship Between Ethics Codes & Laws

I. Review of Some Virginia Laws & Court Cases Affecting Clinical Practice

A. Licensing Board Regulations

Standards of Practice
Grounds for Revocation, Suspension, Probation, Reprimand, Censure

B. State Agency Regulations

C. Statutes Affecting Confidentiality/Disclosure of Client Information

Privileged Communications Statutes (Exceptions to Privilege)
Health Records Privacy Statute (Non-Disclosure; Exceptions)
Reporting Statutes (Child/Elderly Abuse; Practitioner Misconduct)
Duty-To-Protect Statute
Other Statutes Affecting Confidentiality (e.g., Laws Allowing Disclosure)

D. Statutes Affecting Clinical Relationships

Minors – Right to Obtain Treatment Without Parental Consent
Clients – Legal Requirement to Inform Client How to Report Practitioner

E.  Virginia Court Cases

Fairfax Hospital v Patricia Curtis
Schwartz v Schwartz

   II. Review of Some Federal Laws & Court Cases Affecting Clinical Practice

A. Federal Regulations

HIPAA – Health Insurance Privacy & Accountability Act
Confidentiality in Certain Cases

B. Federal Statutes

Confidentiality in Certain Cases

C. Federal Court Cases

Jaffee v. Redmond

III. Ethical Practice Implications of Selected Laws

A. Informed Consent – Difficulty Explaining Potential Limits of Confidentiality
B. Confidentiality –Legally-Imposed vs. Allowed Disclosures; Unpredictability
C. Minors – Confusion About Consent v. “Assent” to Treatment and Disclosure
D. Custody Cases –Are Virginia Judges Willing to Quash a Subpoena?
E. Dual Relationships – Laws Requiring Court-Related Roles

IV. Integrating Ethical Standards and Laws

A. Considering the Ethical Implications
B. Planning the Ethical Response


  1. Describe the relationship between Ethics Codes and laws.
  2. List some of the Virginia Laws that can affect clinical practice.
  3. Describe some of the ethical complications raised by Virginia’s laws.
  4. Describe ways of practicing planfully in order to reduce ethical dilemmas raised by laws.

Workshop History:
March 17, 2018 - Richmond, VA
March 31, 2018 - Fairfax, VA