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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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Hanns Rüdiger Röttgers
Affiliation:
Psychiatric Department County of Verden/Lower Saxony, Lindhooper Straße 67, D-27283, Verden Aller
Peter Lepping
Affiliation:
Wirral and West Cheshire Community NHS Trust, West Cheshire Hospital, Liverpool Road, Chester CH2 1UL
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Abstract

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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.

Type
Original Papers
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
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.
Copyright
Copyright © 1999 The Royal College of Psychiatrists

References

Deutsch, E. (1991) Arzt- und Arzneimittelrecht (Medical and pharmaceutical law issues). Berlin, Heidelberg & New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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.Google Scholar
Lidz, C. W., Hoge, S. K., Gardner, W., et al (1995) Perceived coercion in mental hospital admissions. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52, 1034 1039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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.Google Scholar
Rudolf, G. A. E. & Röttgers, H. R. (1997) Rechtsfragen in der Psychiatric (Law issues in psychiatry). Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitaetsverlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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