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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2017 Sep;45(3):332-338.

Petitioning for Involuntary Commitment for Chemical Dependency by Medical Services.

Author information

1
Drs. Lamoureux and Schutt are Residents in Psychiatry, and Dr. Rasmussen is Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
2
Drs. Lamoureux and Schutt are Residents in Psychiatry, and Dr. Rasmussen is Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. rasmussen.keith@mayo.edu.

Abstract

Patients who have chemical dependency (CD) are commonly encountered on medical and surgical wards, often for illnesses and injuries sustained as a direct result of their substance abuse. When these patients are repeatedly admitted to the hospital in certain states that provide a legal framework to commit chemically dependent persons to a treatment facility, clinicians often wonder whether they should initiate that process. Should consulting psychiatrists choose to initiate the commitment process, they put into motion a resource-intensive, time-consuming mechanism, with uncertain outcomes, both in the courtroom and at the bedside. Petitioning for involuntary commitment to chemical dependency treatment of a patient from medical and surgical services is poorly understood. In this study, we examined a series of patients for whom petitions for judicial commitment in the state of Minnesota were entered over a 12-month period, and evaluated the likelihood of commitment to treatment, the demographics of patients involved, and the outcomes for this series of patients. Three vignettes are presented to illustrate the severity of these patients' illnesses and potential outcomes of the process. We further describe potential limitations of the commitment system and alternatives to CD commitment that could be explored further.

PMID:
28939731

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