Friday, October 24, 2008

What I Learned Part 2

Click here for Part 1

So today I started out with a presentation on ethics training in forensic psychiatry. The most useful portion of that was an overview of teaching techniques used to bring out ethics discussion among students. The presenter gave demonstrations of mock trial testimony, videotaped assessments and vignettes involving ethical issues. I thought that was a nice way to keep people engaged and to challenge them a little bit.

Next was a presentation on neonaticide. It started with a presentation of a neonaticide case, then went on to a discussion of national 'safe haven' laws and judicial waiver laws for teenage abortion. A survey of courts in one state revealed that nearly two-thirds of the courts responsible for providing judicial waivers were not educated themselves in the waiver laws. (This reminded me of one of the presentations from yesterday---only 5% of surveyed judges knew what a 'standard error' was in relation to scientific tests, although all judges were responsible for being able to interpret scientific evidence.) The neonaticide talk ended with a videotaped interview of a woman who had committed neonaticide over 20 years before. I've interviewed neonaticide perpetrators so that itself wasn't new to me, but I did enjoy seeing a video of a young Phil Resnick doing the interview. I learned that if neonaticide perpetrators go on to have additional children they generally don't have parenting issues and don't reoffend. (I don't know what base rate data they have on that though.)

The poster sessions were better today. I liked the summary statistics of one state's competency referrals; only about 5% of all defendants were referred for evaluation of competency to stand trial, and on the average it took two months of treatment to restore the defendants who were found incompetent. One rather clever poster presented the results of a study done in Arkansas, where they looked at PRITE scores for psych residents before and after the founding of a forensic psychiatry fellowship. They found that the forensic psychiatry subscale of the PRITE improved significantly when comparing two year pre- and post-fellowship data.

In the afternoon I attended the peer review session that examined and critiqued videotaped testimony. I give extra brownie points to the AAPL members who volunteer their work product for review---the audience is NOT an easy crowd. But it's a good educational experience.

Finally, I attended the session on evaluation of chronic pain and disability. This is not something I commonly do, which was why I thought it would be good to attend. I received an excellent review of the neuroanatomy of pain as well as an overview of how to do a thorough impairment/disability evaluation. One of the speakers presented a meta-analysis of studies looking at litigation and compensation in relation to chronic pain. Not too surprisingly, there was a correlation between levels of reported pain, impairment, and the amount of compensation.

So that was Friday. Tomorrow: forensic aspects of clinical vampirism (I can't wait), false confessions, new landmark cases and computers. Stay tuned.

Click HERE to see what ClinkShrink learns in Part 3.