Attention to the legal position of psychiatric patients has greatly increased during the last 25 years. The criteria for a civil commitment have been tightened and procedural guarantees have increased. In many countries major changes and improvements in the area of mental health law took place. In this paper the main developments are discussed. Attention is given to the legal protection in case of civil commitment, to the legal position of the involuntarily admitted patient during his stay in hospital and to the relationship between patients' rights and the availability of mental health care. Furthermore the impact of legal intentions to the field of psychiatry is discussed. It is argued that legal interventions should be closely monitored, in order to prevent negative consequences. Legal interventions may be necessary, but this instrument should be used with great caution.

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European Psychiatry
Institute for Medical Technology Assessment (iMTA)

Legemaate, J. (1998). Legal protection in psychiatry: Balancing the rights and needs of patients and society. In European Psychiatry (Vol. 13). doi:10.1016/S0924-9338(98)80041-2