The Limits of the Psychologist-Patient Privilege

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Nevada addressed the limits of the doctor-patient privilege in the context of a medical malpractice case.[1]  For Thanksgiving, 2017 it discussed the limits of psychologist-patient privilege.

Bradley v. Dist. Ct. is a criminal prostitution case.[2]  The prostitute was a minor and was in court ordered treatment with a psychologist as part of her sentence.  Based upon statements she made to police, Hudson was charged with a variety of prostitution related crimes for being a pimp.  He then sought discovery of the psychological treatment records for the prostitute.  The psychologist refused to produce them and asserted they were privileged.  The Supreme Court addressed “whether the privilege applies when a criminal defendant seeks records related to a patient who is court-ordered to partake in therapy, and whether, in this matter, an exception to the privilege exists based on state or federal law or the privilege being waived.”

There are a variety of differences between civil discovery and a criminal defendant’s right to discovery.  However, the statute governing the psychologist-patient privilege is the same, making the Court’s analysis relevant if it comes up in your case.

[1] Discussed on May 4, 2015.
[2] 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 92 (2017).