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September 19, 2017

Nonvoluntary Psychiatric Treatment Is Distinct From Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA. 2017;318(11):999-1000. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.10318

Some of the most ethically challenging cases in mental health care involve providing treatment to individuals who refuse that treatment. Sometimes when persons with mental illness become unsafe to themselves or others, they must be taken, despite their outward and often vigorous refusal, to an emergency department or psychiatric hospital to receive treatment, such as stabilizing psychotropic medication. On occasion, to provide medical care over objection, a patient must be physically restrained.

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