California psychologist William L. Higgins disciplined by licensing board; billed for patient treatment while HE was hospitalized

October 26, 2011

On June 10, 2011, the California Board of Psychology revoked the license of William Loughman Higgins, Ph.D. The revocation was stayed and Board placed him on probation for five years. This action was taken relative to a Board-issued Accusation which included numerous Causes for Discipline including gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, false or fraudulent claims and dishonesty.

According to the Accusation, Higgins was hospitalized twice for a total of 60 days between May 31, 2007 and August 8, 2007. However, he nonetheless billed patients for services as if they had been delivered during this period.

The Board’s document notes that he billed for 77 sessions purportedly delivered to approximately 31 patients, while he was hospitalized. Higgins sent a letter to a Board investigator falsely stating that a marriage and family therapist handled all of his “sensitive and fragile patients” while he was hospitalized.

Additionally, the document states that Higgins conducted a psychological evaluation of a client who had been referred to him by an attorney. He provided a copy of the finished report to the referring attorney even though he did not have permission from the patient to do so and falsely stated to both the patient and a Board investigator that the evaluation was court-ordered.

Moreover, Higgins incorrectly interpreted the results for tests he administered to the client, his findings were not supported by the test scores, set forth inaccurate information about the patient and failed to take reasonable steps to avoid harm to the patient, including failing to return to her a diary she had given him during their initial meeting.

In addition to probation, Higgins is required to reimburse the Board its costs of investigation and enforcement of $12,000.

Source: First Amended Accusation and Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against William Loughman Higgins, Ph.D., Psychologist License No. PSY 13206, Case No. 1F-2007-185822, OAH No. 2010120224, Board of Psychology, State of California.

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