Wed, Mar 30, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Forced hospitalization changes to be discussed

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Department of Mental and Oral Health director Chen Li-chung (諶立中) yesterday said discussions would be held soon over whether conditions for compulsory hospitalization of psychiatric patients should be amended.

Taipei City Hospital’s Songde Branch, where Wang Ching-yu (王景玉) — who was arrested after the decapitation of a four-year-old girl in Taipei on Monday — was treated in 2014, said that based on the Mental Health Act (精神衛生法), Wang’s mental condition at the time could not be described as severe.

Psychiatrist and hospital superintendent Yang Tien-wei (楊添圍) said “he had a fight with his parents at home and because they could not control his behavior and emotions, they called the police, who took him to an emergency room.”

His parents mentioned that he took amphetamines and other illegal drugs, so the hospital performed a drug test, but the results showed that he had not taken drugs in the three to five days before the incident, Yang said.

“His mental disorder did not match the conditions for compulsory hospitalization,” Yang said. “We could only suspect his behavior was caused by a family conflict and his case was not entered into the tracing system for follow-up treatment.”

The doctor suggested that Wang be put under observation at the hospital for a few days, but Wang and his parents refused and only agreed to make follow-up outpatient appointments, Yang said, adding that Wang did not return to the hospital.

“Psychiatric patients with severe conditions who do not receive regular treatment might be more likely to display aggressive behavior, but there are no significant differences between people with no mental health issues and psychiatric patients receiving regular treatment,” Yang said. “In fact, psychiatric patients often become victims, because they cannot protect themselves and often impose a heavy burden on their family members.”

Chen said that in the past, compulsory hospitalization could be used if two psychiatrists diagnosed a patient as being in need of hospitalization, but as human rights awareness increased, the act was amended so that it can only be used if a review committee agrees that a patient poses a threat to themselves or others.

Chen said the department would have specialists discuss whether the rules should be amended.

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