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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 06/25/99
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Study Suggests Courts Should Alter Involuntary Medications Rulings for Psychiatric Patients

Cincinnati—Two University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine professors have released a study that reviewed recent Federal Court of Appeals opinions on the appropriateness and constitutionality of psychotropic medication treatment of individuals who are involuntarily committed hospitals, whether as patients, prisoners, or pretrial detainees. They found that with the advent of the newer atypical antipsychotic medications that have fewer side effects, the current policy regarding involuntarily treating these patients with severe mental illnesses should be liberalized, making it easier for physicians to treat patients in need of medication treatment.

"Now that we have this new generation of antipsychotic medication, the courts should take another look at this issue and allow doctors to determine the best treatment for their patients," says Paul A. Nidich, JD, adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry, and co-author of the review with Jacqueline Collins, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry. Their findings were published in The Health Lawyer, a publication of the Health Law Section of the American Bar Association.

While the issue has application to both civil and criminal law situations, the Supreme Court of the United States has accepted very few mental health cases for review and has never squarely addressed this particular topic. If courts and legislators adopt their proposal, these researchers believe that patients will receive better treatment and the public as a whole also will be better served.

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