B.C. hospitals fail to meet rights of mentally ill patients admitted involuntarily: report

Ombudsperson’s report says legal documents only completed in 28 per cent of cases

Hospitals are denying the legal rights of mentally ill patients involuntarily admitted to psychiatric facilities across the province, according to an investigation by the BC Ombudsperson.

The report, released Thursday by Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, looked at admission records of every involuntary admission in the province that took place in June 2017. Roughly 1,450 cases were reviewed.

Often missing from case files were legally required documents such as ones that outline why a person was involuntary detained, the description of treatment, and confirmation the patient was told their rights.

All required forms were found completed in just 28 per cent of the admission files reviewed. Vancouver Coastal Health, Northern Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority had the lowest overall compliance rates.

In some cases, facilities used “standard rubber stamps” to authorize treatment for a patient, instead of describing the specific treatment, the report said. In other cases, physicians didn’t include which criteria the person met to be involuntarily admitted in the first place. Some forms lacked the necessary signatures or dates.

Chalke said in a news release this kind of response to help mentally ill patients is a last resort for people who are at risk of harming themselves or others.

“Involuntary detention and treatment is the most intrusive form of mental health care available,” he said. “This is a failure to comply with the Mental Health Act, the law that allows people who are gravely ill – our friends, daughters, sons, parents and grandparents – to receive timely treatment while protecting their legal rights.”

The report highlights several personal cases, including one woman who was held in a seclusion room without being told she had been involuntarily admitted. She was not told why nor was she notified of her rights, the report said, and when she requested a copy of her file after she was discharged, she found no form notifying her of her legal rights.

Last month, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the Fraser Health Authority violated a woman’s Charter rights by detaining her against her will for almost a year and denying her access to a lawyer.

The woman was placed in mechanical restraints, denied access to visitors and the use of a phone or internet, and was prohibited from leaving the facility for fresh air. Fraser Health had failed to tell her why she was being detained.

“Going through experiences like this is stressful enough,” Chalke said. “This lack of compliance with legal requirements naturally raises many questions for patients and their families.

“Without documentary evidence, reasons for detention and treatment as well as awareness of how to question decisions can be extremely unclear. Public confidence in the system at large is also put into doubt.”

Chalke’s report says the Ministry of Health and health authorities failed to adequately monitor, audit and address designated facilities’ compliance with legal forms.

He makes 24 recommendations, including increasing oversight and accountability, improving training for staff to know what forms are required, and developing an independent rights advisor to advise patients.

Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy said the report aligns with her office’s goals to improve mental health care.

She said the ministry is reviewing how cases are tracked in each region, as well as improving training among staff and physicians. A video is being developed to inform patients and their families of their legal rights during an involuntary admission. The ministry has also implemented weekly audits by the Provincial Health Services Authority’s psychiatrist-in-chief of all patients admitted involuntarily under the Mental Health Act at BC Children’s Hospital.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, vehicle crashes

Happened in early evening, injuries unknown

Court supports Maple Ridge role in tent city

Rejects Pivot application to allow people to return

City video updates Maple Ridge Leisure Centre re-do

Rusty support columns delaying project by a few months

Maple Ridge councillor back at work

Duncan away because of car accident

Seniors conquer the arctic

Pitt Meadows guide led 35-day trek

VIDEO: Wet weather kicks off Lower Mainland toad migration

Thousands of small western toads were making the trek from pond to woods

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Serious police incident unfolding at Sts’ailes near Agassiz

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

RCMP release sketch of suspect in SFU assault, appeal to witnesses who helped woman

The RCMP want to talk to two women who helped the victim after she got to the parking lot

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read