Developments in Mental Health Law

Articles from Vol. 27, No. 1, January

Attention Focuses on Marketing of Atypical Antipsychotic Medications for Children
An ongoing concern with regard to both health care and mental health care is whether efforts by the pharmaceutical industry to promote the use of their products are inappropriately impacting the independent judgment of doctors when they prescribe...
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Company Producing OxyContin and Three Executives Plead Guilty to Federal Charges of Misbranding
The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc., the company that makes the narcotic painkiller OxyContin, and three current and former executives pled guilty in federal court to criminal charges of misbranding, a plea accepted by the federal Western District...
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Compensatory and Punitive Damages Are Imposed on Oklahoma State Officials Who Were Found to Have Violated the First Amendment When They Retaliated against Private Mental Health Providers Who Had Challenged Politically the Limited Availability of Funding for Their Services; Ruling Not Disturbed
Funding is often key to the successful delivery of mental health services. In recent years in this country privately-owned mental health facilities may be fiercely competing with publicly-funded facilities for the generally limited funding available...
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Concerns Arise over Mental Health Care in Texas and the District of Columbia
A report that seventy-two employees in Texas' ten state mental health hospitals had been fired in the last three years for allegations of physically abusing patients generated considerable attention in Texas. Hundreds more had been terminated for...
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Criminal Prosecutions Target "Dumping" of Homeless Patients with a Mental Illness
Criminal prosecutions of purported "dumping" by hospitals of patients who are homeless and mentally ill continue to arise, particularly in Los Angeles. Advocates for the homeless claim that it is common in many cities for homeless people still requiring...
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FDA Regulation of Labels on Medications Preempts "Failure-to-Warn" Lawsuits Asserting That Manufacturers of SSRIs Failed to Adequately Warn of a Risk of Suicide Purportedly Associated with These Medications
The most widely prescribed drugs in America are for the treatment of depression. According to reported data from IMS Health, a market research firm, 232.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written in 2007, an increase of 25% from 2003....
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Federal Agency Announces Plan to Scrutinize More Closely Funding for Health and Mental Health Care Services
The federal government supports a number of programs which are instrumental in the delivery of health care, including mental health care, in the United States. For example, Medicare provides health insurance for people sixty-five years old or older,...
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Hearsay Testimony regarding Earlier Statements Made by a Child Victim Who Is Now Unwilling to Testify Are Admissible under the Federal Constitution; Ruling Not Disturbed
The adversarial process, which relies on opposing parties each doing their utmost to persuade a neutral decision maker to rule in their favor, is only as good as the information provided to the decision maker. The American legal system has widely...
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Hospital Emergency Room Cannot Tell Ambulance Staff Who Have Called Ahead to Take Prospective Patient to Another Facility Unless Hospital Is on Diversionary Status
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was enacted by Congress in 1986 in response to widespread reports that hospitals were refusing to admit or provide emergency treatment to indigent persons. EMTALA establishes that if...
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Restricting Waivers of the Presentation of Mitigating Evidence by Incompetent Death Penalty "Volunteers"
I. Introduction At the end of 2007, thirty-six states and the Federal prison system held 3,350 prisoners who had received a death sentence. (1) It is not uncommon for criminal defendants facing the death penalty to express a desire to die. (2)...
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The "Tug-of-War" over Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Balancing the Interests of Parents and Schools (and Don't Forget the Kids)
I. Introduction The diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the prescription of ADHD medications, like Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall, have reached an all-time high in this country. The increase in the use of these medications...
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Virginia Court of Appeals (1) Limits Application of "Settled Insanity" Defense to Instances Where Substance Abuse Leads to a Permanent or "Fixed" State of Insanity, (2) Places Burden of Proof for Establishing Involuntary Intoxication on the Defendant
Distinguishing between a mental disorder that is the result of a mental illness or mental retardation and a mental disorder that is the result of substance abuse can be very challenging. While the legal system has long recognized that a mental disorder...
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Virginia Passes Legislation Intended to Expand the State's Ability to Mandate Involuntary Hospitalization and Out-Patient Civil Commitment for Individuals with a Mental Illness
Responding to the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (more commonly known as Virginia Tech) on April 16, 2007, that resulted in the deaths of thirty-three persons and to criticisms that the state's civil commitment...
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Virginia Supreme Court Limits Use of Learned Treatises in Lieu of Experts to Establish Facts at Trial
Expert witnesses are often employed during judicial proceedings in an attempt to establish the existence of facts that are in dispute. For example, if it is contended that a mental health professional failed to provide adequate care and treatment...
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Virginia Supreme Court Rules Insufficient Foundation Provided by Commonwealth to Permit Plethysmograph Testing Conducted as Part of Psychosexual Evaluation to Be Admitted into Evidence at Sentencing Hearing
As new techniques and technologies emerge that will purportedly help judges and juries resolve various legal issues, courts must determine whether testimony based on these new approaches is sufficiently reliable to permit them to be introduced into...
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