Should Competence Be Coerced?
Reamer, Frederic G.
Kelly, Michael J.
Hastings Center Report. 1990 Jul/Aug; 20(4): 30-32.
In this case study, a forensic psychiatric patient is advised by his attorney to avoid trial on criminal charges by refusing further treatment with drugs that are controlling his psychotic symptoms. The case raises the question of whether an involuntarily committed forensic patient has the right to refuse treatment that will restore his competency to stand trial. Reamer, a professor of social work, asks why "a manipulative tactic involving refusal of medication" should be regarded any differently from other disruptive things that criminal defendants may do to postpone or prevent a trial. Kelly, a law school dean, argues that if the patient is competent to understand the consequences of his refusal and to make decisions for himself, he "clearly has the right to refuse treatment of his psychotic symptoms to avoid trial." Unlike Reamer, Kelly believes the patient's attorney may be acting appropriately by advising his client to refuse further medication. (KIE abstract)
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