The quest for excellence in forensic psychiatry.
P. E. Dietz,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
24(2): 153-63, 1996.
Excellence in forensic psychiatry requires adopting an appropriate professional role; developing an
uncommon depth of knowledge and experience; full disclosure of credentials, biases, and
weaknesses to potential clients; wise choices about which assignments to accept; and scrupulous
fairness in the presentation of findings and opinions. An elusive goal in the best of circumstances,
the quest for excellence can appear even more quixotic as resources diminish. As forensic psychiatry
faces cost controls from insurance companies, increased competition from psychiatrists who have
lost clinical opportunities, and the prospect of tort reform, the pressure to employ more efficient
methods and to do more superficial work increases, threatening the quality of forensic work. The
many influences, distractions, temptations, and hazards in the path toward excellence can be largely
overcome by men and women of integrity, but there are inflexible barriers in the path of those who
take assignments for which they are unsuited, for which the data will not be made accessible, or for
which too little time is available to prepare properly. Often the most consequential decision one
makes in a case is the decision to accept the case.