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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 46 (2004) 5, 295 - 304

State-of-the-art-article

The psychiatrist and disciplinary law

P.P.G. Hodiamont

background The psychiatrist's professional autonomy is being increasingly controlled by laws and regulations. The principal instrument of control is currently the disciplinary law which has been in operation since 1997 as part of the Law on Professions in Individual Health Care (known in Dutch law as the 'Wet BIG').
aim To summarise the disciplinary law with regard to its form and content, to analyse complaints about psychiatrists and to advise psychiatrists on how to deal with complaints.
method The rulings of disciplinary law are summarised and verdicts delivered in cases involving complaints against psychiatrists are briefly reviewed. In addition, psychiatrist are advised on how to defend themselves when complaints against them lead to court proceedings.
results The aim of disciplinary law is to safeguard the quality of professional practice in the health services. Complaints about psychiatrists are no more frequent that complaints about other health professionals. Complaints relate mainly to patients' rights and to medical-technical and organisational matters. In general, no more that 20% of verdicts are in favour of the plaintiff and the trend is downwards. However, psychiatrists accused on the basis of complaints made against them would do well to show a degree of understanding for the plaintiff.
conclusions By virtue of their training psychiatrists are well equipped to cope with disciplinary proceedings in a professional manner and to benefit from the experience.

keywords disciplinary law, legislation, professional autonomy, psychiatry, social control