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What is the penalty for forging the signature of a Psychiatrist on a NYS Article 14 9.55 form, enabling an outpatient mental health care provider to summon police assistance in transferring a patient to a hospital for emergency evaluation? Also, could the same act be legally defined as medical negligence?

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It is a Class A misdemeanor, the penalty for which is up to 1 year imprisonment or 3 years probation, and a fine up to $1,000 or twice the gain from the crime. It might also be medical malpractice, depending on the standard of care owed to the person; more seriously, it would probably be fraud and false imprisonment.

The comment somewhat clarifies the circumstances, that a medical practitioner who is (by assertion) not a psychiatrist is alleged to have forged the signature of Dr. X. Maintaining the assumption that one of the two people who saw the patient is a medical practitioner and signed the paperwork, then the question is whether purporting to be Dr. X and signing paperwork that results in the unlawful seizing of a person constitutes a breach of that professional duty of care. There is an article, "Liability Risks for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners" (Elsevier paywall) which gives an overview of liability issues for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners which points out the possibility of civil and criminal sanctions for a bad faith involuntary hospitalization action. This (free) article surveys some of the underlying legal issues, and summarizes the duty of care issue as asking whether the provider's care deviates from the accepted standard of care for such a provider. This then involves expert testimony regarding what that standard is. I very much doubt that it is "standard care" to violate state law w.r.t. emergency hospitalization.

The key distinction between medical negligence and medical malpractice is that malpractice involves an intent to go ahead despite the risk of injury. So it depends on whether you can prove intent.

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  • If the person is a psychiatrist it can’t be a forgery. If it’s a forgery it can’t be malpractice. – Dale M May 16 at 8:25
  • If a person is a physician but not a psychiatrist, it can be forgery and malpractice. – user6726 May 16 at 14:05
  • The original asked was what the penalty for this could be? It was forged, I was never seen by a Psychiatrist. The 2 people involved in the 9.55 issuance are both established caregivers of mine, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, as well as the Director of the facility. Being that the only 2 people who could have forged the Psychiatrist's signature were caregivers, how could that not be malpractice? Or would it be defined as medical negligence? – Kate May 16 at 17:18

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