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General Laws

Section 129A. All communications between a licensed psychologist and the individuals with whom the psychologist engages in the practice of psychology are confidential. At the initiation of the professional relationship the psychologist shall inform the patient of the following limitations to the confidentiality of their communications. No psychologist, colleague, agent or employee of any psychologist, whether professional, clerical, academic or therapeutic, or a graduate of, or student enrolled in, a doctoral degree program in psychology at a recognized educational institution as that term is defined in section 118, who is working under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, shall disclose any information acquired or revealed in the course of or in connection with the performance of the psychologist’s professional services, including the fact, circumstances, findings or records of such services, except under the following circumstances: (a) pursuant to the provisions of section twenty B of chapter two hundred and thirty-three or any other law; (b) upon express, written consent of the patient; (c) upon the need to disclose information which protects the rights and safety of others if:

(1) the patient presents a clear and present danger to himself and refuses explicitly or by his behavior to voluntarily accept further appropriate treatment. In such circumstances, where the psychologist has a reasonable basis to believe that a patient can be committed to a hospital pursuant to chapter one hundred and twenty-three, he shall have a duty to seek said commitment. The psychologist may also contact members of the patient’s family or other individuals if in the psychologist’s opinion, it would assist in protecting the safety of the patient; or

(2) the patient has communicated to the psychologist an explicit threat to kill or inflict serious bodily injury upon a reasonably identified person and the patient has the apparent intent and ability to carry out the threat. In such circumstances the psychologist shall have a duty to take reasonable precautions. A psychologist shall be deemed to have taken reasonable precautions if said psychologist makes reasonable efforts to take one or more of the following actions:

(a) communicates a threat of death or serious bodily injury to a reasonably identified person;

(b) notifies an appropriate law enforcement agency in the vicinity where the patient or any potential victim resides;

(c) arranges for the patient to be hospitalized voluntarily;

(d) takes appropriate steps to initiate proceedings for involuntary hospitalization pursuant to law.

(3) the patient has a history of physical violence which is known to the psychologist and the psychologist has a reasonable basis to believe that there is a clear and present danger that the patient will attempt to kill or inflict serious bodily injury upon a reasonably identified person. In such circumstances the psychologist shall have a duty to take reasonable precautions. A psychologist shall be deemed to have taken reasonable precautions if said psychologist makes reasonable efforts to take one or more of the following actions:

(a) communicates a threat of death or serious bodily injury to the reasonably identified person;

(b) notifies an appropriate law enforcement agency in the vicinity where the patient or any potential victim resides;

(c) arranges for his patient to be hospitalized voluntarily;

(d) takes appropriate steps to initiate proceedings for involuntary hospitalization pursuant to law.

(4) nothing contained herein shall require a psychologist to take any action which, in the exercise of reasonable professional judgment, would endanger himself or increase the danger to a potential victim or victims.

(5) the psychologist shall only disclose that information which is essential in order to protect the rights and safety of others.

(d) in order to collect amounts owed by the patient for professional services rendered by the psychologist or his employees; provided, however, that the psychologist may only disclose the nature of services provided, the dates of services, the amount due for services and other relevant financial information; provided, further, that if the patient raises as a defense to said action substantive assertions concerning the competence of the psychologist or the quality of the services provided, the psychologist may disclose whatever information is necessary to rebut such assertions; or

(e) in such other situations as shall be defined in the rules and regulations of the board.

No provision of this section shall be construed to prevent a nonprofit hospital service or medical service corporation from inspecting and copying, in the ordinary course of determining eligibility for or entitlement to benefits, any and all records relating to diagnosis, treatment, or other services provided to any person, including a minor or incompetent, for which coverage, benefit or reimbursement is claimed, so long as the policy or certificate under which the claim is made provides that such access to such records is permitted. No provision of this section shall be construed to prevent access to any such records in connection with any coordination of benefits, subrogation, workers’ compensation, peer review, utilization review or benefit management procedures applied and implemented in good faith.

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