Getting mental health treatment to patients who need it is today a much belegaled enterprise. This is in part because lawmakers have a skewed view of the enterprise, in particular regarding the treatment of patients with antipsychotic medications. The properties and uses of these medications are misunderstood by many in the legal community, with the drugs’ undesirable side effects typically overstated and the remedial effects undersold when not outright ignored. One specific legal effect has been to accord to mental patients a substantively outsized right to refuse treatment that comes with a correspondingly action-stifling dose of procedural safeguards, this despite the patients’ frequent lack of capacity to exercise the right wisely and the bad personal and systemic consequences that flow from that. The purpose of this Article is to provide better balanced and accurate evidence of the properties of antipsychotic drugs so as to convince lawmakers and advocates for the mentally disabled that it is safe to roll back some of the more counterproductive legal strictures on the effort to provide mental health treatment. An analysis of selected cases and statutes is intended to illustrate that such a roll back can and should be applied to a variety of legal and institutional contexts.
Samuel J. Brakel & John M. Davis M.D.,
Overriding Mental Health Treatment Refusals: How Much Process is “Due”?,
St. Louis U. L.J.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.slu.edu/lj/vol52/iss2/7