Psych clinics allowed to use force to treat patients from next year: report

From next year, care providers in psychiatric care will be allowed to use coercive measures against uncooperative patients. Blocking a wheelchair, using writs bands as cuffs, and confinement will soon be permitted in extreme cases, AD reports based on forms from which care providers will work next year.

New legislation that will be implemented on January 1st makes it possible to force uncooperative patients with a mental disorder or intellectual disability to receive treatment. The forms in AD's possession show how that will be done in practice. 

According to the forms, care providers will be allowed to physically restrain patients, even in their own homes. They can also use cameras to monitor people who pose a danger to themselves or others, search patients' homes for alcohol, drugs or dangerous objects, or confiscate their phone and laptop. Patients can also be barred from dangerous areas, like the kitchen.

These coercive measures may be used to administer fluid, nutrition and medication, according to the newspaper.

Minister Hugo de Jonge and State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health stressed that coercion should only be used in extreme cases - cases in which coercion is necessary to prevent a patient seriously harming themselves or others. 

The Dutch Association for Psychiatry told AD that the use of coercion in mental health care must always be avoided as much as possible. "When coercion is used as an 'ultimate remedy', it should be as short, safe and humane as possible and the preferences of the patient should be met as much as possible."


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