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Stephen Read, MD

FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST

Dr. Read's forensic psychiatry practice is grounded in his more than twenty years of experience in the practice of psychiatry and especially Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Read's experience in the widest range of situations and patient needs has sharpened his ability to appreciate the implications and consequences of psychiatric and other care decisions. His forensic expertise has been recognized in 1999 with certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with Added Qualifications in Forensic Psychiatry.

As a geriatric psychiatrist with fellowship training in neurobehavior, Dr. Read 's core forensic experience is, of course, with the issues of capacity and competency, e.g. will contests, indications and need for conservatorship. In addition, Dr. Read has been retained by both plaintiff and defendant in various matters involving quality of care issues in geriatric psychiatry (including medical malpractice, long term care, nursing home care), personal injury, elder abuse (physical abuse and neglect, financial abuse, undue influence, marriage competence), as well as in selected criminal issues. He has been qualified as an expert witness in federal court and in state courts in California, Wisconsin, Alaska, and Delaware. Dr. Read has been retained for Consultation and Expert Witness testimony in over two hundred cases in the past six years.

Dr. Read's forensic expertise is centered in his broad clinical experience in geriatric and general psychiatry. Dr. Read specializes in the analysis of the complex contributions of multiple problems to the clinical/forensic situation, including:

  • psychiatric disorders of thought and mood (depression, mania, anxiety, schizophrenia and psychosis),
  • cognitive impairment (due to Alzheimer's Disease, frontal lobe or other degenerative disorders, head injury or other neurologic impairment),
  • medical conditions affecting the clinical/forensic problem, and
  • social/circumstantial factors (family issues, abuse, undue influence, bereavement).

Evaluation of decisions, decision-making, and capacity is a central issue in geriatric psychiatry. Early in Dr. Read's career, he focused on the issues of informed consent of geriatric subjects for research projects. It was clear that extreme positions on this difficult question inhibited both patient well-being and autonomy and progress in understanding the clinical conditions that were only then becoming objects of study. Ensuring that consent is informed requires constant analysis and attention to issues of capacity and the process of coming to a decision while maintaining respect for the complexity of the individual.

Dr. Read subsequently served as a consultant to the California Bar Association's Committee on Probate and Estate Matters for revising and updating the criteria for probate conservatorship. The resulting code specifies areas of potential mental deficiency that must be linked to the functional deficit in capacity by examination; diagnosis per se is relevant only for prognosis as may be a consideration for the court. These revisions serve to focus the court's attention on functional rather than medical terminology.

Dr. Read has also published on the special question involved in the assessment of the capacity to marry. Recently he was asked to testify for the California State Senate Subcommitte on the Aging (Chair: Senator Teresa Hughes) on the subject of financial abuse of elders, an area, unfortunately, of growing clinical significance too often neglected by law enforcement and underserved by existing public programs. He was quoted in the September 3, 2001 issue of Time magazine (limited edition) on protecting elders from abuse.


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