Patient Wins Legal Appeal to Stop Forced Treatment, Forcibly Treated Hours Later

Rob Wipond
24
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“Mental health advocates hope a case in Victoria’s Supreme Court will provide vital guidance about the decision-making power of mental health tribunals across the country,” reports Australia’s ABC News. The case involves a “Patient X” who was involuntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment in 2013, won her legal appeal before a tribunal and was released, and then was simply incarcerated again and forcibly treated by a psychiatrist within hours of winning her appeal.

“What we’re concerned about is that just a matter of hours later, the treating team said, ‘No sorry, we’re not going to follow that decision of the review board. We’re going to make you involuntary again,'” a lawyer told ABC News.

The acting director of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, Liz Carr, “said mental health review tribunals are a crucial check and balance for patients who have been ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment,” reports ABC News. “She said it is troubling that their decisions can be simply ignored.”

According to ABC News, only 6 per cent of appeals before the tribunals ever result in discharges. “So if we lose the oversight body, we’re all at risk,” said Carr.

Advocates and legal experts said there was a legal “vacuum” and lack of clarity around the country with respect to legal attempts to challenge involuntary psychiatric treatment.

Victoria’s Supreme Court ruling on Patient X case to determine limits of mental health boards’ power (ABC News, October 7, 2014)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. They will be ignored unless some people who were involved in this and other scandals like that get some “involuntary treatment” in form of a prison sentence. That would cure the system of at least some of its abuses really fast.

  2. Isn’t it interesting how psychiatrists do not have to conform to the law but can act with total impunity and do whatever it is that they want? No other specialty of medicine is allowed to act like this, but of course, psychiatry is not really a specialty of medicine at all. They are agents of social control who try to force everyone to conform to their ideas of normalcy. They also make sure that the huge difficulties that people must deal with, and which cause emotional and psychological distress in our modern society never get addressed.

    I agree with B up above. This will not only continue, it will get worse until some of these psychiatrists are themselves given some “involuntary treatment” in prison.

  3. This was all just a bit of a mistake.

    The psychiatrists knew that the ink for the rubber stamp down at the mental health tribunal must have run out, because they always take the view that the psychiatrists are right. So they will just go ahead and wait for the ink pad to be refreshed with more ink.

    Nothing to see here folk, move along.

  4. How disgusting is that?

    The shrinks are told by a duly constituted court of appeal to release a person, and then they immediately defy the order and incarcerate the person and forcibly “treat” them regardless.

    What it shows, quite simply and clearly, is that Australian Mental Health Tribunals are a rubber stamp for psychiatrists who wish to railroad any person into treatment. AND if the “duly constituted court” decision fails to rubber stamp psychiatrists’ wishes, the psychiatrists throw a little tanty and simply ignore it, knowing no-one will touch them. It is pure theatre, a farce.

    This should not be an appeal or a seeking for clarification of the law, it should be a criminal case of kidnap and torture with contempt of court thrown in for good measure and mandatory jail time and de-registration for the individual doctor committing the offence and sanctions for the institution in which the offence is allowed to occur.

    Appalling indeed….but oh so illustrative of psychiatry’s methods, attitudes and power.

  5. The Australian Mental Health Review Tribunal

    http://www.mhrt.nsw.gov.au/the-tribunal/

    “In its civil hearings, the Tribunal may: …

    approve the use of ECT for involuntary patients;

    approve surgery on a patient detained in a mental health facility;

    approve special medical treatment (sterilisation); …”

    They are a “quasi-judicial body,” protecting the quasi-civil rights of quasi-people. I’ll be following this story too, but I bet we don’t hear another damn thing. The kangaroo court got its rubber stamps mixed up. Oops!

  6. Pretty amazing regardless of what the, “almighty” ,psychiatrist did, when outside of that, 5670 people, go to this extremely stressful pre- loaded “kangaroo review board” to one way or another– stop the torture, what about the 5000 plus that weren’t aloud to leave the insanity in the loony jail and the poison being shoved into their mind and body– —Hello! yooo hoo–:). How sad is it that. Only a hand full are aloud to leave, and then, theirs “for ever” the new ones don’t even really know about yet, think about that power, think about that sad future, never mind the winners. The only way to fix the review board is to have it like a “normal court jury” of “normal people” that you pick in the same way you do in a normal court, say, where you are taking someone to, for kidnapping, incarcerating, poisoning, and brutal and violent assault, just like you always do, that’,s why a lot of these people are in reality, going to court for, and they don’t even get a jury. But they do get drugged insane, for a review hearing, of the perpetrators peers, to prove their sanity, and “somehow” try to protect their sanity by getting out, away from the insanity in the bin and in the poison, good rave guys. That’s my two bobs worth, thanks all, jb

  7. Shocking report, but sadly I can’t say I’m surprised.

    What happens in the UK is that if someone chooses to exercise the legal right provided to them by the Mental Health Act, social services spend a whole wad of public money to get that legal right removed. It seems there are no absolute rights – where it appears the law provides some, the psychiatric system seems able to overrule the law.

    It’s a fantastic system designed to give itself absolute power, to blame the patient when anything goes wrong or worsens, and ensures there is no route for its victims to pursue redress.

  8. All I can say is LAWSUIT! It is so rare that these mental health hearings result in a release, you KNOW there was no grounds to hold that person. To act with such impunity is absolutely criminal, but the evidence required for criminal conviction is quite a bit higher. So I say sue their asses. Class action would be better if they could find a handful of folks who had the same thing happen to them. It’s a gross violation of civil liberties and needs to be appropriately sanctioned by the Courts.

    —- Steve

    • I often think about the use of civil action as a silencing technique. The tip of the iceberg, those few cases where a person actually manages to get the evidence and attention, are then made to disappear with compensation.

      I believe that the best way to bring those within the system back into line is to pursue criminal charges in cases like this.

      With the amount of public money available to them though, it’s just so easy to buy their way out of any crimes that they commit.

      • Boans, I did go to the police. I had an informal meeting with an inspector (relative of a friend) where I outlined a dozen or so medical papers – many of which were found via MIA – that in my opinion proved that without good reason my son was being subjected to physical and psychological harm at the hands of the NHS, and I therefore wanted to press charges.

        The response was this: the problem would be that the ‘experts’ the police would go to for opinion were the very people I was accusing of perpetrating the crime.

        I also went to a firm of solicitors renowned for negligence cases. Their response was that they would have problems finding sufficiently qualified ‘experts’ prepared to lambast their colleagues in court.

        As mentioned, a fantastic system protecting itself from all angles.

        • Hi AngryDad,

          It is certainly a problem the way these abuses are being enabled, and there is little if any recourse through the law.

          It was a situation that Anders Brevik lawyers used very well in his trial. Once it looked like psychiatry was going to be put on trial, they backed off very quickly. Couldn’t afford that to occur.

          I’m not sure how long ago you faced this problem, but it is possible to get the matter to court yourself, or with minimum assistance from legal counsel. It may be something worth considering, and if we can’t get assistance from lawyers then we may have to do it ourselves, rather than just lay down and submit.

          If there is anything I can do to help, feel free to contact me.

          Regards
          Boans

          • Yeah, Brevik’s case was when they got laughed off the park by everyone including general public. But that was a loud case and it was in the spotlight. The problem with psychiatry is that they mostly abuse (like any abusers really) the weak and powerless (and I mean that in terms of resources: money above all and what goes with that time and lawyers).

        • It’s not a problem limited to psychiatry (though this is the only one of medical professions which has such unchecked powers) – proving medical errors and mistreatment is always a pain. That’s why patients have to organise themselves – we have the whole system against us. Psychiatric abuse is only “level up” – with the total subjectivity of their “diagnosis” and an ability to not only label you insane but also to get back on you in form of forced treatment.

      • I also think so. I don’t really care for any money, I want the people responsible to face consequences (at the very least if I were to get money it should be them paying it out of pocket and not the public tax money as it works normally). Get them fired and locked up in jail. And get that place closed down or turned into something useful for a change.
        Btw, civil cases are the ones where you have to get the lawyer and pay and stuff – in criminal cases all the expense and effort is done by state prosecutor. In civil cases also “guilt” means something completely different.

    • I think class action would be the only thing that could change the tide a little bit. But it’s far from easy. In general cases against this system are almost unwinnable. The psychiatrists are the ones who are experts in their own cases, the laws are screwed in their favour (you have to prove innocence – that you were not “danger to self or others” and not the other way around as in normal justice system), they can manipulate evidence and witnesses are usually all part of the same institution so have 0 incentive to tell the truth etc.

  9. …and the other thing that gets me is that while psychiatrists have over 300 ways in the DSM to prove the patient is insane and/or in need of treatment, they do not include a definition that would allow patients to prove themselves sane – that of sanity or mental health, other than it’s pretty much you have none of the illnesses listed in DSM 5.

    Going through and proving you have none of the 300 listed illnesses is impossible, as the “illnesses” are made up on the whim of psychiatrists without a scientific evidence base and hence there is no independent scientific test capable of disproving whether you have the “illness” or not.

    Given the above, I consider it absolutely amazing that 6% of appeals are successful….psychiatrists will probably argue that this shows that the DSM needs further expansion. 😉

  10. I have been witness to this here in NH.
    The law in this state is 28 pages long regarding involuntary commitment; in some cases the intention is an alternative to incarceration.
    I have witnessed an individual with a “conditional discharge” for 2 years, drugged (injectable) with the controversial Invega Sustenna 2+x manufacturer recommended dose-for over a year+, then re-upped the court order-again another 2 years without opportunity to show supported documentation on defense’s behalf, yet support of the private non profit contracted by state (outsourced), this is an alternative prison sentence of 4 years for what, never proven actions? Amazing.
    Maybe this latest NH implementation of: “Perscription Drug Monitoring” law, may bring change.
    When used by integrity oriented peers, both State & private leadership that are charged with oversight and accountability toward ethical practice and outcomes( not funding), the real operating procedures may bring about consequence.
    I understand the public view of this article is geared toward more of an oversight of what may seem to be interpreted as; patient abuse of these such drugs, however given the opportunity this law allows, mighten the leadership start to pull away the layers of a Dr.’s; notes, “fillers” within files and revel one’s history thus, get to the true picture of undue influence, bringing forth the real coercive offenders of such prescription drugs…it may be a systematic concern.

    Not just Australia, sadly.

    Here is the link to the article referred to: http://www.unionleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20141016/NEWS12/141019147&template=printart