Magazine article Corrections Forum

Mentally Ill Still Secluded for Years

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Mentally Ill Still Secluded for Years

Article excerpt

The Wall Street Journal

Mental patients sprinkled throughout psychiatric hospitals in the U.S. are being locked up alone for years, despite laws aimed at preventing the practice, because medical workers say they're too dangerous to handle any other way.

Health officials call them outliers - rare, unpredictably violent people who don't respond to medication or other treatment. Advocates call them victims of a system that's lost patience and creativity in caring for those most difficult to treat.

Loopholes in federal and state laws and important oversight allow hospitals to lock up some patients for the safety of staff and other patients. Cases involving seclusion and restraints have resulted in lawsuits, yet they are so rare that many advocates had no idea there were similar situations in other states until the Associated Press inquired about it.

Federal law requires that seclusion or restraints - including drugs - be used on patients covered by Medicare or Medicaid only in emergencies to protect other patients and staff. …

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