School Psychology Review

Accountability: An Overview of the Impact of Litigation on Professionals

H.R. Turnbull III

pp. 46-52

General Issue

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It is now common to hear discussions about governmental accountability, its theoretical basis, the rights of consumers and clients in enforcing it, the strategies for securing it, and the consequences of abiding by it. In part, these discussions have been provoked by and are a response to frontier opening judicial acknowledgements of rights to education and treatment. They also are a response to court decisions (a) holding professionals personally liable in damages for treating patients in mental health and mental retardation institutions in professionally unacceptable ways or for refusing to treat them at all and (b) establishing and enforcing the right to treatment and education. To the extent that litigation has been the catalyst for imposing a principle of accountability to consumers and the public at large on professionals involved with the handicapped, it has been and will continue to be welcome, desirable, and even necessary.