Is Testimony of a Treating Psychiatrist An Exception to the Physician-Patient Statute ?

In Commonwealth ex rel. Platt v. Platt, 266 Pa. Super. 276, 404 A.2d 410 (Pa. Super. 1979), the Court had to determine whether testimony of a treating psychiatrist in an involuntary commitment proceeding violated the physician-patient privilege. The Court stated, "since psychiatric treatment does not evidence the existence of a loathsome disease, evidence of such treatment could not blacken the reputation of one who has sought it for only evidence of such a disease would tend to blacken a person's reputation." 404 A.2d at 415, citing In re "B", 482 Pa. 471, 394 A.2d 419 (1978). Furthermore, the Court found the Mental Health Procedures Act requires the testimony of the psychiatrist who examined the patient to be committed and, because the Act was promulgated subsequent to the statutory physician-patient privilege, we gave it preference. Platt, 404 A.2d at 415. Thus, this Court held, "the said Act is a special provision requiring the testimony of the physician who treated the patient, which special provision controls the general physician-patient statute and constitutes an exception thereto...." Id.