Another American Medical System Failure
Reports from Aurora indicate the murderer in the theater shootings was seeing a psychiatrist.
The information came out when the defense had the audacity to insist a notebook James Holmes had mailed his psychiatrist, showing how he planned to do the killing, was confidential.
Whether the psychiatrist could have reported him without violating patient-doctor confidentiality is a question for lawyers. Limited exceptions are allowed when a psychiatrist determines a patient is dangerous, depending on the law of the state he practices in.
Before taking a position on this question, the American medical system should be examined.
In most cases, psychiatrists only see patients for 30 minutes. They are little more than medical vending machines. Some psychiatrists refuse to accept health insurance, and that especially includes Medicare but also private insurance. They leave therapy to psychologists, who get 45 minutes.
During a psychiatric visit a patient spends most of the time discussing whether prescribed medications are working, should stay the same, be changed, or stopped. Cognitive behavior therapy, the most common method used by psychologists, would not be employed.
The days of a Sigmund Freud talking to a patient to try to find out what was behind the problem are long gone. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether the University of Colorado psychiatrist who saw Holmes had any idea of what he was about to do.