Area of Law: Health Law
Answer # 704
Patients' rights if involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospitalRegion: Ontario Answer # 704
A common form of involuntary admission arises when a court orders a psychiatric assessment of an individual. A person may also be admitted as a patient involuntarily upon recommendation of a physician. In Ontario, any doctor may make an application for a psychiatric assessment of an individual and the public authorities (police, hospital officials, etc.) are obliged to detain the person. The physician must give that person written notice of the application and cite reasons.
The detention may be for no more than 72 hours. In that time, a different physician must assess the condition of the patient. In order to keep the individual in the facility involuntarily, the doctor must complete a Certificate of Involuntary Admission. This Certificate can be renewed. Any patient detained involuntarily is entitled to a hearing before the Consent and Capacity Board. Also, after the third renewal, the patient is entitled to an automatic hearing before the Board.
In addition, the doctor must:
- provide the person with written notice that they are being kept involuntarily and give the reasons why, and
- notify the Rights Advisor of the change in the person’s legal status.
The Rights Advisor will meet with the patient to discuss his or her legal options. Although Rights Advisors must complete a form and submit it to the doctor confirming that they met with the patient, they will not tell the doctor what was discussed.
The patient has a right to challenge the doctor’s decision as well as hire a lawyer. If a hearing before the Board is requested, the hearing must take place within seven days of the request. After the hearing, the Board will make a decision within 24 hours. If the patient does not agree with the Board’s decision, and provided there has been an error in fact or law, the decision can be appealed to the Superior Court.
For more information about involuntary patients in a psychiatric facility, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) website.
For legal assistance, contact a lawyer.
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