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Emergency Psychiatric Hospitalization via Court Order: A Critique
Am J Psychiatry 1973;130:1323-1326.
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Professor of Psychiatry, State University of New York at Buffalo, E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital, 462 Grider St., Buffalo, N.Y. 14215

1973, The American Psychiatric Association

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In order to provide emergency psychiatric hospitalization for disturbed persons who refuse treatment while at the same time protecting their civil liberties, New York State has instituted a system of court-ordered psychiatric examinations. The authors contend that this system is incapable of responding quickly in an emergency, lacks flexibility in providing alternative sources of treatment, and tends to diffuse decision making, so that no one official feels responsible for the patient. In addition they have found that although the court-ordered system is intended to protect civil liberties, the manner in which it is carried out demeans the supposedly ill person, risks disruption of his family and social relationships, and forces the police to treat him like a criminal.

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