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Thome J.;Coogan A.N.;Simon F.;Fischer M.;Tucha O.;Faltraco F.;Marazziti D.;Butzer H.
European Psychiatry
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the medico-legal and human rights of psychiatric patients
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The COVID-19 pandemic has raised significant concerns for population mental health and the effective provision of mental health services in the light of increased demands and barriers to service delivery [1]. Particular attention is being directed toward the possible neuropsychiatric sequelae of both COVID-19 and of the stringent societal mitigation steps deployed by national governments, concerns that are informed by historical increases in the incidence of psychotic disorders following influenza pandemics [2]. However, so far there has been scant attention paid to other important areas of psychiatry during COVID-19, including medico-legal aspects and human rights. In this paper, we discuss the legal implications for psychiatry of the COVID-19 pandemic and report a novel situation in which psychiatric patients may experience diminution of their statutory protections. We believe that this represents a paradigm shift in psychiatric care and that the consideration of the fundamental rights of psychiatric patients as "less important" than infection control measures compel mental health professionals to "advocate for … patients and their caregivers" in this time of crisis [1].
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