Oral Presentation Australasian Association of Bioethics & Health Law and New Zealand Bioethics Conference

Bioethical Dilemmas in the area of Mental Health Care and Law: Involuntary Detention and Treatment of the Mentally Ill   (905)

Samuel Wolfman 1
  1. Haifa University Israel, Tel Aviv, ISRAEL, Israel

Involuntary admissions and hospitalizations of mentally ill patients, present a medico legal, moral, social and mostly bioethical dilemmas for the western legal systems. Those are mostly due to the necessity to choose between conflicting principles of deprivation of personal freedom and autonomy of the mental patients vis-a-vis the necessity to preserve safety of society.

Some legal systems tend to rely more psychiatric evaluation - the medical model, however most western legal systems use the medico-legal model, by which the final decision regarding the terms of involuntary hospitalizations, is taken by mental health tribunals or courts

Many western legal systems have enacted special statutes for the treatment of the mentally ill patients.

However despite the statutory arrangements, there are still quite a few unsolved bioethical dilemmas which the different statutes cannot solve.

Such dilemmas are in the areas of the definition of dangerousness, the psychiatric disorders that are not defined by the DSM-V as psychiatric diseases, cases of psychiatric patients who refuses to take their psychiatric medications etc.  Another set of bioethical dilemmas may concern the involuntary admissions of suicide attempters who may present psychiatric symptoms vis-a-vis the right of a person to end his/her life, as well as the dilemma of the "normal" suiciders.

The presentation shall address the bioethical dilemmas, both from academic as well as from practical point of view of a statutory tribunal of involuntary hospitalizations.