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Treatment of the mentally ill in the Federal Republic of Germany: Sectioning practice, legal framework, medical practice and key differences between Germany and the UK

  • Hanns Rüdiger Röttgers (a1) and Peter Lepping (a2)
Abstract
Aims and method

The legal provisions concerning the admission to hospital, holding powers and compulsory treatment of the mentally ill in Germany are illustrated. The essential legal concepts are compared to the situation in Great Britain.

Results

Whereas British law gives key powers to multi-professional decision-making and relatives, German law requests formal court decisions even in routine cases. This reflects a different understanding of individual rights and their protection. German mental health law is motivated by the experiences of the totalitarian national socialist regime. It tries to protect patients' rights by restricting physicians', hospitals' and family members' Influence. British law, on the other hand, assumes that experts as well as family members act benevolently in the patient's Interest, prefers less formal mechanisms and expresses more trust in professional ethics.

Conclusion

Further research is desirable to analyse the situations in other countries and to determine which of these approaches is the most adequate from the point of view of the mentally ill. This is even more important in view of further European integration which will undoubtedly touch these questions and accelerate a convergence in medico-legal issues.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Deutsch, E. (1991) Arzt- und Arzneimittelrecht (Medical and pharmaceutical law issues). Berlin, Heidelberg & New York: Springer-Verlag.
Eberhard, G. A. (1988) Hifen, Schutzmaβnahmen und Maβregelvollzug bei psychischen Krankheiten in Nordrhein-Westfalen: Handbuch PsychKG-MRVG-Kommumale Schriften für Nordrhein-Westfalen, Band 19. (Commentary on the Northrine-Westphalian sectioning law). Cologne: Deutscher Gemeindeverlag.
Lidz, C. W., Hoge, S. K., Gardner, W., et al (1995) Perceived coercion in mental hospital admissions. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52, 1034 1039.
Riedel, R. R., Seidl, H., Hoff, P., et al (1992) Zwangsbehandlung gegen den Willen des Patienten in der Psychiatric (Forced treatment of psychiatric patients). Münchener Medizinische Wochenschrift, 92, 33 37.
Rudolf, G. A. E. & Röttgers, H. R. (1997) Rechtsfragen in der Psychiatric (Law issues in psychiatry). Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitaetsverlag.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Treatment of the mentally ill in the Federal Republic of Germany: Sectioning practice, legal framework, medical practice and key differences between Germany and the UK

  • Hanns Rüdiger Röttgers (a1) and Peter Lepping (a2)
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