Tensions and risks in the blanket use of locked door policies in acute mental health inpatient facilities: Balancing human rights, clinical utility and public and patient protection

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 2015, 22 (1), pp. 32 - 48
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© 2015 The Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. Although there has been a consistent trend away from institutionalised mental health care over the past decades, this has occurred at the same time as increased coercive care measures are employed in mental health inpatient facilities, as these facilities become weighted to more serious cases. Locked wards, which regulate the ability of both voluntary and involuntary patients to leave psychiatric units, are increasingly common in acute mental health inpatient settings. This article focuses on the controversy surrounding a recent initiative to extend locked door policies across all public acute inpatient facilities in Queensland, explores the legal, ethical and clinical issues around the implementation of locked door policies in acute mental health inpatient facilities, and examines the tensions in balancing individual rights and public and personal protections in the treatment of acute mental health disorders.
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