OEHN Fitness for Duty

A Fitness for Duty Evaluation evaluation is often called when the appointing authority has raised a serious concern about an employee, whether a police officer, a firefighter or a medical service provider, doctor, nurse or allied health professional.  The behavior of the individual in question has been observed in connection with some incident or situation, and concerns have been raised regarding some type of risk or safety issue.

Fitness for Duty Evaluations (FFDE) have emerged more recently as a special type of psychological evaluation.  Psychologists have long been asked for their professional opinions as to the “state of mind”  or “mental status” of someone in question, where the possibility of an underlying “psychological problem” has been raised. The referral question usually emerges from some incident or situation where the “psychological” state or condition of the person has been questioned for some reason, and a “professional opinion” has been sought to enlighten the situation and inform for a decision.

OEHN brings a wide range of clinical experience, over thirty years, to the task of Fitness for Duty.  The combination of psychological tests and interviews represents an essential aspect of the assessment process.  Consultation with the referring source and the appointing authority can inform as to the available information in the case.  All information is carefully collected and reviewed and safeguarded for confidentiality.  The consultations with the appointing authority and other key personnel includes the collection of collateral information, in interviews and other consultations.  The process can include extensive psychological testing.  The process always involves direct, face-to-face clinical interviews, often more than one interview, often extending to several hours in complex, compelling cases.

The Fitness for Duty Evaluation has a direct relationship between psychology and the law, especially the laws governing employment and by extension disability, notably, the disability acts and related case law.  The interaction of psychology and law in the Fitness for Duty Evaluation is clear and demanding, calling for adherence to the highest ethical and legal standards.  The demands and expectations of the Fitness for Duty Evaluation are considerable, especially when applied to public safety personnel.  Not every psychologist is willing and able to properly conduct a high profile, sensitive Fitness for Duty Evaluation, as the issues of liability can be very challenging in some extreme cases.

The Fitness for Duty Evaluation can be requested to inform as to a number of psychological issues in any given case, including, competence assessment, underlying psychological problems posing risk to self, risks to others and risk to the organization, and persisting behavioral problems compromising ability to perform the essential duties and of the employment.