Compulsory, Ambulatory Psychiatric Treatment
R. Durst, A. Teitelbaum, Y. Bar-El, M. Shlafman, Y. Ginath
Arie Jaros Jerusalem Mental Health Center and Talbieh Mental Health Center (Affiliated with the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem) and Israel Ministry of Health, Jerusalem District
The Treatment of Mentally Sick Persons Law of 1955, was repealed and replaced by the Law of 1991. Under the latter, the Order for Compulsory Ambulatory Treatment (OCAT) was addressed for the first time (Section 11, a-d). According to this law, the district psychiatrist instead of issuing a hospitalization order, may issue an OCAT, under which the required treatment is given within the scope of a clinic which he designates, for up to 6 months and under conditions which he specifies. This is done on the basis of psychiatric examination, or an application in writing from the director of a hospital or clinic, when continued ambulatory treatment is needed after discharge from hospital or instead of compulsory hospitalization. The district psychiatrist may extend the period of treatment for further periods, none of which is to exceed 6 months. Compulsory ambulatory treatment is to enable patients to benefit from the positive aspects of living freely in the community, while receiving prompt treatment under compulsory conditions. The concept offers a partial solution, achieving a balance between civil liberties and clinical needs, between over-confinement and under-treatment which might be dangerous or neglectful. The clinical impression has been that the OCAT has not fulfilled expectations. The purpose of this study was to examine the topic in a systematic way in Jerusalem and the soutern districts for the 4 years since inception of the law. In 44.4% of cases OCAT was proven to be effective, while in 33.1% it was found to be ineffective and did not prevent compulsory hospitalization, one of its main goals. It was partially effective in the rest of the cases. It is recommended that suitable means for the enforcement of the law be allocated and that the subject of forceful hospitalization and OCAT be made a mandatory subject in the residency program of psychiatrists.