Israeli District Court Judge, Gidon Ginat, rules that electroshock treatments will not be administered against the patient’s will, including not during forced hospitalization in a closed ward of a psychiatric hospital. The judge cited patients not receiving adequate legal representation, as well as potential problems with how they determine a person to be “dangerous,” which may affect the person’s case.
This article is reprinted from other sources. The original was in Israel Hayom, an Israeli newspaper, and was written by Edna Adato. The English version was on occupypsychiatry.net, and was translated by Janna Weiss. Published August, 2013.
The Court: Electroshock treatments should not be forced on psychiatric patients
The ruling was issued in an appeal submitted by the Justice Department’s Tel Aviv and Central District Legal Aid Division, in the context of legal representation given to force hospitalized patients or patients who receive forced treatment in psychiatric hospitals throughout the country. The appeal dealt with a person’s right, even if force hospitalized, to not undergo treatment against his will, especially electroshock treatment, which is an invasive extreme treatment with medical implications.
The judge emphasized that the state has promised that professional entities in the Ministry of Health, the Justice Department and the State Attorneyl’s office would examine the issue of electroshock treatment to force hospitalized patients in depth. Attorney Limor Goldenberg-Hadad, Director of the Justice Ministry Tel Aviv District Legal Aid Division, emphasized that “the right to legal representation, recognized as a basic constitutional right, is of especially great importance in the protection of the rights of forced hospitalized patients.” According to her, in many cases, patients that reach the psychiatric committees are in a difficult mental state and do not understand the legal provisions.
It can be ascertained from an internal document that the Division prepared, that the percentage of those discharged from forced hospitalization by psychiatric committees in recent years is 16.5%. According to the document, the significance of this is that were it not for the legal representation provided, hundreds of force hospitalized patients would evidently remain in closed wards for a longer time.
Moreover, according to the District’s findings, there were difficulties and shortcomings, among other things, in the realization of the rights of patients to legal representation, in stringent interpretation of the extent of the dangerousness of the patients, and in the administration of electroshock treatment during hospitalization. For instance, a woman patient arrived at the airport and stated that she had purchased a ticket on the Internet in order to travel to her home in Switzerland. However, she was told that the ticket was not there, and after an exchange with the attendants, the police were summoned. When the police found out that the woman had been force hospitalized in the past, they decided she was hallucinating and that she does not have a home abroad. She was transferred directly to Abarbanel [Psychiatric] Hospital and a force hospitalization order was issued. In the end, the woman was discharged, thanks to the involvement of Tel Aviv Legal Aid.