Sep 25, 2018
Mental health legislation balances competing aims including patient care, safety, and autonomy, with public expectations of justice, humane treatment, and professional discretion. The difficulty of satisfying all is shown by the recent comment by the United Nations Committee for the Rights of People with Disabilities that all people have legal capacity at all times, leading to the conclusion that involuntary treatment and substitute decision-making are unethical.
The October 2018 podcast interviews Associate Professor Christopher Ryan, Director of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, and Associate Professor at the Sydney Health Ethics centre of the University of Sydney. Professor Ryan has numerous publications covering delirium, risk categorisation, and ethical practice in psychiatry. Professor Ryan highlights psychiatrists’ unique responsibility for the exercise of involuntary detention for the treatment of mental illness; discusses recent improvements in Australasian legislation governing this responsibility; and suggests that improved understanding of mental health legislation covering involuntary treatment should be a priority for psychiatric training and continuing professional development.