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Unread July 18th, 2004, 03:48 PM
loftus75 loftus75 is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 19
Default Re: Suicide

I'm not sure what the various State laws are relating to patients rights, but in the UK we cannot retain patients against their will unless certain criteria is met. The 1986 Mental Health Act states that patients that might harm themselves or anyone else may be retained if two doctors, one (MD)and a psychiatrist have assessed the patient and agree that the patient is unable to be accountable for their actions, (excuse my paraphrasing). However families members can and do influence these decisions. So a family that has a suicidal member can have that family member released from care under certain conditions. Sometimes this flies in the face of the advice given to them, sometimes the families are right, sometimes they are wrong.

I would imagine there must be safe guards in the USA that protect patients rights along these lines as well. That being the case patients that are at risk, unless already under some form of health care supervision order, can and do commit suicide and a variety of other crimes. This notion of blame, that is a patient living in the community is not responsible for their actions and subsequently their mental health carer must be, seems bazaar.

If a person is receiving mental health care and it is deemed they are capable enough to remain in the community, perhaps because the law protects their rights and makes it difficult to retain a patient against their will, then should we blame the law for the crimes committed by this patient?

Here in the UK we can and do retain people suffering from suicidal tendencies, people can be brought into a hospital if they have attempted suicide...but they can only be held in a hospital for a certain period of time, days not years.

When we review sad events in hind sight it is easy to get things right. When reviewing our colleagues work we should remember that the situation most of us have to deal with is not a one sided event, patients have rights and sometimes these override the suspicions of the mental health worker, whether that be a psychologist, psychiatrist or MD. It's also remembering these patient rights are there for good reason, remember the eugenenic/behaviourist period of our own history.
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