Medical practice: defendants and prisoners.
It is argued in this paper that a doctor cannot serve two masters. The work of the prison medical officer is examined and it is shown that his dual allegiance to the state and to those individuals who are under his care results in activities which largely favour the former. The World Health Organisation prescribes a system of health ethics which indicates, in qualitative terms, the responsibility of each state for health provisions. In contrast, the World Medical Association acts as both promulgator and guardian of a code of medical ethics which determines the responsibilities of the doctor to his patient. In the historical sense medical practitioners have always emphasized the sanctity of the relationship with their patients and the doctor's role as an expert witness is shown to have centered around this bond. The development of medical services in prisons has focused more on the partnership between doctor and institution. Imprisonment in itself could be seen as prejudicial to health as are disciplinary methods which are more obviously detrimental. The involvement of medical practitioners in such procedures is discussed in the light of their role as the prisoner's personal physician. (+info)
Dilemmas of medical ethics in the Canadian Penitentiary Service.
There is a unique hospital in Canada-and perhaps in the world-because it is built outside prison walls and it exists specifically for the psychiatric treatment of prisoners. It is on the one hand a hospital and on the other a prison. Moreover it has to provide the same quality and standard of care which is expected of a hospital associated with a university. From the time the hospital was established moral dilemmas appeared which were concerned with conflicts between the medical and custodial treatment of prisoners, and also with the attitudes of those having the status of prisoner-patient. Dr Roy describes these dilemmas and attitudes, and in particular a special conference which was convened to discuss them. Not only doctors and prison officials took part in this meeting but also general practitioners, theologians, philosophers, ex-prisoners, judges, lawyers, Members of Parliament and Senators. This must have been a unique occasion and Dr Roy's description may provide the impetus to examine these prison problems in other settings. (+info)
Food refusal in prisoners: a communication or a method of self-killing? The role of the psychiatrist and resulting ethical challenges.
Food refusal occurs for a variety of reasons. It may be used as a political tool, as a method of exercising control over others, at either the individual, family or societal level, or as a method of self-harm, and occasionally it indicates possible mental illness. This article examines the motivation behind hunger strikes in prisoners. It describes the psychiatrist's role in assessment and management of prisoners by referring to case examples. The paper discusses the assessment of an individual's competence to commit suicide by starvation, legal restraints to intervention, practical difficulties and associated ethical dilemmas. Anecdotal evidence suggests that most prisoners who refuse food are motivated by the desire to achieve an end rather than killing themselves, and that hunger-strike secondary to mental illness is uncommon. Although rarely required, the psychiatrist may have an important contribution to make in the management of practical and ethical difficulties. (+info)
Stalking--a contemporary challenge for forensic and clinical psychiatry.
BACKGROUND: Stalking is causing pervasive and intense personal suffering and is an area of psychiatry that is currently overlooked. AIMS: To review demographic and clinical characteristics of stalkers as well as the psychological consequences for victims of stalking. METHOD: A Medline and PsycLit search was conducted on stalking, forensic psychiatry, personality disorders, de Clerambault syndrome and erotomania, with respect to the relevance of the articles selected for stalking. RESULTS: Stalkers are best thought of as a heterogeneous group whose behaviour can be motivated by different forms of psychopathology, including psychosis and severe personality disorders. CONCLUSIONS: There is a clear need to arrive at a consensus on a typology of stalkers and associated diagnostic criteria. The effectiveness of psychological and pharmacological treatments have not yet been investigated. Treatment may need to be supplemented with external incentives provided by the legal system. (+info)
Evidence-based rehabilitation in forensic psychiatry.
BACKGROUND: The extent to which forensic psychiatric rehabilitation alters an individual's level of risk is unclear. AIMS: To highlight some essential features of a forensic psychiatric rehabilitation system, and to discuss risk assessment in this context to create a conceptual framework for risk research and practice. METHOD: The applicability of risk assessment instruments to forensic psychiatric rehabilitation was examined. Core processes and elements considered essential in this type of rehabilitative work were reviewed. RESULTS: Current risk research has limited application to rehabilitation. Future research aimed at analysing forensic psychiatric rehabilitation will be hampered by the complexity of the treatment systems and the number of methodological issues relevant to this type of research. CONCLUSIONS: Novel research approaches are suggested to analyse further the risk factors and processes important in forensic psychiatric rehabilitation. (+info)
Future directions for treatment in forensic psychiatry.
BACKGROUND: As the availability of mental hospital beds has fallen, so the number of people in prison has risen. AIMS: To review current policy trends in British forensic psychiatry and put them in an international context. METHOD: Literature on the prevalence rates of psychiatric disorder in prisons and jails has been examined for the USA, England & Wales and New Zealand. RESULTS: All studies show a high prevalence of mental disorder in prisons and jails. Authors in the USA suggest that prisons are replacing mental hospitals. In England & Wales rates of psychosis are reported as 4-10% for remanded prisoners and 2-7% for sentenced prisoners. Substance misuse among prisoners is a major problem. Prison is the preferred place of disposal for large numbers of mentally disordered people. Does this matter? Why should this be the case? Is this the cheapest option? Politicians are considering new powers to direct more people into institutions (presumably prisons) on the grounds of public protection. CONCLUSIONS: We need more information about attitudes and their formation. We need more interprofessional dialogue about the best arrangements for people with mental disorders, and inter-disciplinary education. (+info)
Violence in the workplace: new perspectives in forensic mental health services in the USA.
BACKGROUND: This paper reviews current research on workplace violence in the USA and offers suggestions concerning the roles that mental health professionals with forensic expertise can play in this expanding field. AIMS: To clarify the role of the mental health professional in evaluating issues related to workplace violence. METHOD: Manual and computer literature searches were performed. RESULTS: The incidence of reported workplace violence is on the rise and can be devastating beyond the immediate injury. Forensically oriented mental health professionals can assist companies by providing pre-employment screenings, fitness-for-duty evaluations and threat assessment by using the results of current research on potentially violent individuals. CONCLUSIONS: With the growing interest in workplace violence come many opportunities for mental health professionals to assist companies in assessment, intervention and prevention. (+info)
Ethnic differences in admissions to secure forensic psychiatry services.
BACKGROUND: Persons of African-Caribbean origin are more frequently imprisoned, and increasing evidence suggests they are detained more frequently in psychiatric hospitals, following offending behaviour. AIMS: To estimate population-based prevalence rates of treated mental disorder in different ethnic groups compulsorily admitted to secure forensic psychiatry services. METHOD: A survey was recorded of 3155 first admissions, from 1988 to 1994, from half of England and Wales, with 1991 census data as the denominator adjusted for under-enumeration. RESULTS: Compulsory admissions for Black males were 5.6 (CI 5.1-6.3) times as high as, and for Asian males were half, those for White males; for Black females, 2.9 (CI 2.4-4.6) times as high and for Asian females one-third of those for White females. Admissions of non-Whites rose over the study period. Patterns of offending and diagnoses differed between ethnic groups. CONCLUSIONS: Variations in compulsory hospitalisation cannot be entirely attributed to racial bias. Community-based services may be less effective in preventing escalating criminal and dangerous behaviour associated with mental illness in African-Caribbeans. (+info)