Enforcing medical treatment under the Involuntary Treatment Order: An ethical dilemma?

By Seth Delpachitra in Volume 2, Issue 1 2011


Seth Delpachitra
Sixth Year Medicine
James Cook University
Seth has a particular interest in mental health and is currently investigating the role of neuroinflammation in cognitive decline.

Introduction: This case report aims to address the ethical issues and obligations of enforcing medical care onto psychiatric patients under the Queensland Mental Health Act 2000 Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO), and will also present Queensland’s legal standpoint and limitations on providing this care under the Act. Case Presentation: PF, a 47 year old male with a history of depression and recent diagnosis of Gleason 7 prostate cancer was admitted to the acute mental health unit following an intentional overdose of alprazolam. His risk to himself prompted the application of an ITO. Although PF was due for investigation of his recently diagnosed prostate cancer, he refused following his suicide attempt. Conclusion: Although an ITO allows for enforcement of psychiatric treatment, no legal allowances exist for enforcement of medical care. In situations where medical conditions may be indirectly detrimental to a person’s mental health, ethicallyappropriate techniques should be employed.

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