Psychiatric examination performed by phone to determine guardianship - Is it legally valid?

Elieser Feldinger*, Ilana Kaminsky, Miki Bloch, Shaul Schreiber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The administration of a psychiatric evaluation to determine guardianship entails the prerequisite of a full psychiatric examination of the patient. In psychogeriatrics, dementia is the common reason for measures to determine incompetence and guardianship and in general psychiatry it is applicable for the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Legal guardianship is determined by the court and can apply to aspects involving confidentiality such as the patient's assets or body or both, and its duration can be temporary or permanent. This is a case study of a 30 year old man who had never undergone a psychiatric examination. His parents reported behavior that was suggestive of a prolonged paranoid psychotic state for the past 8 years with deterioration in the last year. All attempts by his parents to bring him to a medical or psychiatric examination were refused by the patient. In order to prevent further deterioration of the situation, the family was advised to request legal guardianship for him. Due to his refusal to be examined and the lack of indication for a forced examination, a long taped phone conversation was conducted with the patient and later validated to ensure that this was the patient in question. This conversation together with heteroanamnesis, provided the basis for writing a psychiatric evaluation recommending the appointment of a legal guardian for the patient. To the best of our knowledge, the court's decision to appoint a legal guardian based on a telephone conversation is a precedent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-712
Number of pages3
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Court's decision
  • Legal guardianship
  • Phone conversation
  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Psychotic state


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