Defining the competent psychiatrist

What defines a competent psychiatrist? To staunch critics of the field, perhaps nothing. Some believe psychiatry has done far more harm than good, or has never helped anyone, rendering moot the question of competency. What defines a competent buffoon? A skillful brute? An adroit half-wit? Having just finished Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic […]

OpenNotes: Good intentions gone awry

OpenNotes is “a national initiative working to give patients access to the visit notes written by their doctors, nurses, or other clinicians.” According to their website, three million patients now have such access, generally online. Participating institutions include the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, Penn State Hershey Medical Group, […]

Military brain-chips to cure psychiatric disorders?

Sounding like something straight out of science fiction, DARPA recently announced grants to fund research and development of implantable brain-stimulation chips aimed to relieve, or even cure, mental disorders. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency thinks big, and it has the money, i.e., our tax dollars, to back it up. Decades ago, DARPA brought us […]

Psychiatric uncertainty and the neurobiological buzzword

A few years ago I wrote that uncertainty is inevitable in psychiatry. We literally don’t know the pathogenesis of any psychiatric disorder. Historically, when the etiology of abnormal behavior became known, the disease was no longer considered psychiatric. Thus, neurosyphilis and myxedema went to internal medicine; seizures, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and many other formerly psychiatric […]

Do patients avoid psychiatrists for fear of legal holds?

Over on the Shrink Rap blog I got caught up in an off-topic debate. The post was on why psychiatrists avoid insurance panels, something I’ve written about myself. But the commentary wandered into exorbitant fees, inadequate mental health services for the poor, income disparity between psychiatrists and patients, a generation that expects something for nothing, […]

Who is mentally ill?

My fellow psychiatrist and blogger Dinah Miller raised this simple yet profound question on Shrink Rap the other day. Who is rightfully labeled mentally ill? Is it anyone with a psychiatric diagnosis, past or present? Anyone with currently active psychiatric symptoms? Anyone receiving psychiatric treatment? Dr. Miller observes that “the mentally ill” is an oft-cited […]

Third-party payment for psychotherapy: (2) Medical necessity

In my last post I outlined some complexities of third party payment for office psychiatry, and especially for psychotherapy. As my example I used Medicare, the only third party payer I bill. Some of the problems include complex billing (i.e., collecting from multiple parties), partial reimbursement, unrealistic documentation requirements, loss of patient confidentiality, and a […]