Beware what you tell a therapist or doctor because patient confidentiality isn’t always honored.
72 year old Arthur Lovi lives in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He was suffering from high blood pressure and his doctor believed it was caused by stress so he recommended that Lovi see a therapist. He made an appointment with a psychologist/therapist.
On his first visit, he opened up to her, telling her that he felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He shared that in the past few years that he experienced the loss of his mother, his son-in-law and a 3 year old granddaughter. Then he told her that his wife Cindy died 9 years earlier at the age of 53.
Lovi told the therapist that Cindy had been tired and that she seemed to bruise easily. He convinced her to see a doctor. The doctor diagnosed her as having a cold. Lovi wasn’t satisfied, so he convinced her to see a second doctor the next day. The second doctor diagnosed her as having leukemia. Three short weeks later she died.
Cindy’s death still feels like it was yesterday to Lovi and he is bitter with the first doctor. He told the therapist that he doesn’t know if a day would have mattered, but wished they would have had the chance to find out. Then he made the mistake of telling her that if he ever saw that first doctor again that he would beat him up, but would not go out of his way to find the doctor.
Lovi went home, feeling a little better after opening up to the therapist. However, the therapist violated the doctor patient confidentiality when she telephone the local police and informed them that Lovi had made a threat against the one doctor. She did tell the police that she didn’t believe he was dangerous nor would be likely to follow through on his threat, but felt it was her job to report the threat.
Several hours after Lovi got home, he received a call from the Arlington Heights police. During the conversation, the police asked him if he had any weapons in his house. He told them that he had three antique guns, one of which was a musket that was over 100 years old. Lovi also told them that he had no ammunition for any of the guns and wouldn’t even know how to load the old musket if he did have ammunition. The guns were just part of the antique collection of old telephones, kerosene lanterns and teakettles that filled his home.
The police asked him if he had valid FOID card. Firearm Owners Identification cards are issued by the Illinois State Police that allows state residents to legally own firearms and ammunition.
Lovi believed that the police were satisfied with his responses and paid no further mind to the phone call. However, around 11pm that night, four or five police showed up at Lovi’s house. What happened from that point on is disputed between Lovi and the police.
The police claim that during their visit, that Lovi voluntarily yielded up his antique guns. Lovi claims the police had no warrant but threatened him that if they had to come back with one that his house would be torn up in their search. They entered his house without his consent, seized his three antique guns and his FOID card.
Two days later, Lovi contacted the police to get his guns back, since the police had not filed any charges against him nor was he arrested. He got upset during the conversation as the police were less than cooperative. According to Lovi, the police officer felt that Lovi needed to be examined by a psychiatrist and that he would be handcuffed if necessary if he didn’t agree to be transported in an ambulance to the local hospital. The police account states that Lovi willingly allowed himself to be taken to the hospital for evaluation.
Upon examination, the hospital shrink determined that Lovi was not a threat to anyone and he was released. After his release, Lovi made three attempts to get his guns and FOID card back from the Arlington Heights police. On one of those attempts, he was told that his FOID card had been sent to the state police in Springfield, but that later turned out to be a lie.
Eventually, Lovi retained the services of a law firm in Chicago and filed charges against the Arlington Heights police for violating his Second and Fourth Amendment rights. Not long after, the police returned his antique guns and FOID card, but Lovi noticed that one of the guns had been damaged by the police.
His lawsuit is still pending and I hope and pray he wins. But what I don’t understand is why he doesn’t sue the therapist that started the whole mess. She had no right to break the doctor patient confidentiality, especially when she admitted that she did not believe Lovi to be a threat to anyone including the doctor. Had she honored her oath and duty, Lovi would not have been put through all of this.
The lesson learned is that if you see a therapist, psychiatrist or any kind of medical professional, be careful what you tell them. You may think that what you say is private and won’t be shared, but the case of Arthur Lovi proves differently.