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Failure to conduct a full / accurate assessment (fitness to practise case study)

Our case studies are based on real life fitness to practise concerns we have received. They illustrate the types of issues that are taken into consideration by a panel when deciding if a registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, and if so what sanction to apply.

Type of concern Failure to conduct a full / accurate assessment
Profession Practitioner psychologist
Standard

Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (updated in August 2012)
Standard 1. You must act in the best interests of service users
Standard 6. You must act within the limits of your knowledge, skills and experience and, if necessary, refer the matter to another practitioner
Standard 7. You must communicate properly and effectively with service users and other practitioners
Standard 10. You must keep accurate records

Standards of proficiency for social workers in England (updated in August 2012)

Standard 1. Be able to practise safely and effectively within their scope of practice
Standard 2.2. Understand the need to promote the best interests of service users and carers at all times
Standard 2.4. Understand the need to address practices which present a risk to or from service users and carers, or others
Standard 4. Be able to practise as an autonomous professional, exercising their own professional judgement
Standard 4.1. Be able to assess a situation, determine its nature and severity and call upon the required knowledge and experience to deal with it
Standard 4.2. Be able to initiate resolution of issues and be able to exercise personal initiative
Standard 4.3. Recognise that they are personally responsible for, and must be able to justify, their decisions and recommendations
Standard 4.4. Be able to make informed judgements on complex issues using the information available

Case study

An employer raised concerns about a psychologist who did not report a service user’s suicidal thoughts to their supervisor or any other professionals. This was despite it happening repeatedly and after recording a case note. Following an appointment with the registrant, the servicer user made a suicide attempt and was taken to hospital. The registrant delayed informing her line supervisor about this despite having received a police report.

The registrant attended the hearing and was represented. The Panel felt that the registrant owed a duty of care to the service use. At the time, the service user was extremely vulnerable and at risk of causing himself harm. The Panel was satisfied that by failing to complete an appropriate assessment and by not immediately informing her supervisor or other health professionals, the registrant failed to promote and protect the interests of service users.

The registrant to be in serious breach of the standards, which it felt amounted to misconduct. The Panel found that the registrant lacked insight and lacked effective remediation. The Panel also determined there was a risk of repetition. It felt the registrant had brought her profession into disrepute by breaching a fundamental tenet of the profession. This was given that the primary duty of a practitioner psychologist is to safeguard service users from harm. The Panel came to the conclusion that a striking-off order was the only way to protect the public, given the registrant’s inability to remedy her misconduct.

Measures we put in place to protect the public The Conduct and Competence Committee imposed a striking-off order.

 

Published:
14/01/2019
Resources
Learning material
Subcategory:
Case study
Audience
Registrants, Employers
Profession
Practitioner psychologists
Page updated on: 14/09/2020
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