Ethical and Legal Aspects of Telepsychiatry

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Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine


Ethical and legal frameworks are essential components in mental health care, due to inherent nature of illnesses and practice modules. These serve to safeguard rights and privileges of patients and mental health professional. Gradual evolution of technology and its’ application in assessments and interventions is making it as an essential part of mental health care delivery. This transition will bring innovative challenges for mental health care delivery in terms of practice, ethical and legal aspects. Existing ethical and legal frameworks are time tested for real time/face to face delivery of mental health care. Ongoing pandemic provided opportunity and necessitated use of technology for delivering health care needs. Newer operational and practice guidelines have emerged for practice of telemedicine in general and telepsychiatry in specific. These are in lines with existing ethical and legal frameworks. However, additional frameworks with specific definitions about what constitutes consultation, assessment methods, prescription modes and contents of prescription, documentation, certification, eligible platforms for telepsychiatry, need to be incorporated and observed. The article addresses these ethical and legal aspects in telepsychiatry practice with the background of existing practice guidelines and rules.

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