Mental health liability

TeleMental Health and Professional Liability

TeleBehavioral Health 301, a free twelve-part series hosted by the Harborview Behavioral Health Institute, aims to enhance quality of care for individuals who live with mental health and substance use issues.

CMHPL Director Dr. Jennifer Piel’s TeleBehavioral Health 301 session, TeleMental Health and Professional Liability, explores common legal aspects of telehealth for mental health providers. Topics covered include licensure requirements, malpractice, and controlled substances as we transition from the COVID-19 public health emergency.

View slides

Updates from Dr. Piel

End of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency

President Biden recently announced plans to end the federal COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11, 2023. Absent additional rulemaking, this means that some currently waived federal requirements are anticipated to return to pre-COVID requirements.

These include:

  • In-person visit before prescribing a controlled substance unless there is a qualifying exception under the Ryan Haight Act or other federal law 
  • Federal DEA registration in the state where the patient is located and prescriber location, if different
  • HIPAA-compliant platforms required for telemedicine 

Temporary extension of COVID-19 telemedicine flexibilities for prescription of controlled medications

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, together with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a Second Temporary Extension of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications. Key provisions include:

  • The telemedicine flexibilities for prescriptions of controlled substances put into place during the Public Health Emergency (PHE) will remain in effect through December 31, 2024. 
  • These telemedicine flexibilities authorize practitioners to prescribe schedule II-IV controlled medications via audio-video telemedicine encounters, including III-V narcotic controlled medications approved by FDA for treatment of opioid use disorder via audio-only telemedicine encounters. 
  • This includes any practitioner-patient telemedicine relationships that have been or will be established up to December 31, 2024.
  • New standards are expected by fall 2024. 

Additional resource:  DEA Extends Telehealth Flexibilities Another Year


Enroll to receive a Certificate of Completion or Continuing Medical Education credits for courses in the TeleBehavioral Health series.

Liability Considerations in Integrated Care Settings

Integrated Care Training Program

Presenter: Jennifer Piel, MD, JD

May 11, 2023

View slides (no recording of presentation)

Learning objectives:

  • Review common causes of action against psychiatric providers.
  • Recognize how different roles can impact liability considerations.
  • Discuss examples that may arise when working with other clinicians to manage patients’ care.

What Should Behavioral Health Clinicians Know About Law?

University of Washington Psychiatry & Addictions Case Conference (UW PACC)

Presenters: Carol Barnes, MD and Jennifer Piel, MD, JD

March 24, 2022

View slides (no recording of presentation)

Learning objectives:

  • Recognize that clinicians have a professional responsibility to stay informed of relevant legal developments.
  • Review topics and means to stay informed of relevant law.
  • Become familiar with basic principles in law.