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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Vignette 37: The Fabricated Letter

Dr. Krista Gordon received an email from E Corp, the employer of a current patient Mr. Elliot Alderson (someone she provided psychotherapy for over a year, but has cancelled multiple appointments recently due to some family issues).  Dr. Gordon has not seen him for over a month, and he is not scheduled until the following month.

The email from E Corp was for the purposes of letting Dr. Gordon know that her patient had submitted documentation to E Corp (supposedly from Dr. Gordon), and they wanted to confirm that these documents were legitimate and unaltered.

To Dr. Gordon’s disappointment, she saw one legitimate letter (an older letter she wrote for Alderson to submit to his boss, confirming regular 4:30 pm appointment times, which allowed Alderson to leave 30 minutes early on those days), and one entirely questionable, clearly altered letter.

Apparently, Mr. Alderson copied Dr. Gordon’s letterhead and pasted it as an image for the false documentation.  The body of the letter is something Gordon never wrote (saying that Dr. Gordon assessed Alderson and determined he is unfit to return to work for an indefinite period).  Dr. Gordon’s signature is also copied and pasted on the fake letter.  The fake letter was shoddily done, the footer is cut-off, some of the text is cut-off, and most of the text appears to be slightly at an angle.  The letter clearly did not come from Dr. Gordon.

Of course, this a huge breach of trust and Dr. Gordon struggling to organize her thinking as she feels incredibly violated by Mr. Alderson.  Dr. Gordon calls you for a consultation.

What are the clinical issues involved in this situation?

What are the ethical issues involved in this scenario?

What are the ramifications about the therapeutic relationship?

How does Dr. Gordon respond or not respond to E Corp?

Are there any other legal issues that may be in play?

What course of action would you suggest to Dr. Gordon?