Discuss laws for involuntary commitment, involuntary treatment, and assisted outpatient treatment
Medical intervention in the form of involuntary commitment, involuntary treatment, and assisted outpatient treatment sometimes draws much controversy because of ethical concerns. However, these interventions are necessary due to two reasons. First, patients who suffer from mental illnesses, for instance, tend to experience disorders that make them a danger to themselves and to others in the society. As Testa and West attest, “The perceptual distortions caused by disorders of mood, thought, and cognition can interfere with a person’s functioning to such a severe degree that treatment is critical to the safety of the affected individual and others.” Secondly, those same disorders might impair the patient’s judgment, making him or her not seek medical care in spite of the illness. In such a case, the United States has made available involuntary commitment and treatment, as well as assisted outpatient treatment, as options that can be explored to get the patients much needed medical assistance.
Consequently, the legislation on involuntary commitment and treatment is based upon this rationale of the incapacity of the patient. In 1964, the United States established a standard for involuntary commitment, also known as civil commitment. The standard was that the person had to be proven to be mentally ill before civil commitment could be commenced (Center for Public Health Law Research). Secondly, the person had to be determined to be a danger to themselves, and others or “gravely disabled” in the sense that he or she could not provide for basic necessities (Testa and West). Subsequent state laws on civil commitment have largely followed this standard. Additionally, the court has affirmed this basis as well. In the 1975 U.S. Incomparable Court instance of O'Connor v. Donaldson, the court held that "a State can't naturally limit without progressively a person who is equipped for surviving securely in opportunity independent from anyone else or with non-perilous the assistance of willing and dependable relatives or companions" (Stentin et al., 6). This ruling shows that dangerousness as a consequence of mental illness is the fundamental rationale behind civil commitment.
However, the State laws vary with regards to how the criteria on civil commitment are operationalized. According to a report distributed by the Policy Surveillance Program, "Long haul duty starts with an underlying time of responsibility that shifts in span from 14 days to one year, contingent upon state laws. After this period has passed, 43 states and the District of Columbia require another court request to broaden the patient's dedication time frame" (Policy Surveillance Program). In some instances, the patients who have been involuntarily committed are offered voluntary admissions, as was determined in the case of Zinermon v. Burch (Mental Health America). However, it is ...