Coercion in the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa: Clinical, Ethical and Legal Implications
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 2005 March; 24(1): 21-40
Because of its high mortality and treatment resistance, clinicians sometimes invoke the law in aid of retaining their most acutely ill-patients in treatment or re-feeding programs. Depending on the jurisdiction, various laws, including mental health and adult guardianship laws, have been invoked to achieve this objective (Carney, Tait, Saunders, Touyz & Beumont, 2003). Until recently, little was known about the therapeutic impact of coercion on patients (Saunders, 2001, Carney & Saunders 2003), or the relative advantages of different avenues of coercion (Carney, Saunders, Tait, Touyz & Ingvarson 2004). Most obscure of all, however, has been our understanding of the factors influencing clinical decisions within specialist anorexia treatment units regarding which in-patients will be selected for coerced treatment. This paper reports legal and ethical implications of findings from analysis of data gathered from a major Australian specialist anorexia treatment facility over nearly 5 years.
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