Australian mental hospital involuntarily detains, drugs the wrong man
January 2, 2013
A mental health advocate says the case of a man who was arrested and drugged after being mistaken for a patient from a Perth psychiatric hospital is not a one-off.
Police arrested the man while on lookout for an involuntary patient who left Graylands Hospital without permission.
The man was wrongly identified as the missing patient and then given an antipsychotic drug.
He had a bad reaction and was taken to hospital, where the mistake was discovered.
Western Australia's Mental Health Minister Helen Morton says she was shocked to hear about incident.
"The policies and procedures are stringent about identifying people when they are made involuntary and when they are about to receive a Schedule 4 drug, and it would appear those policies and procedures weren't carried out," she said.
Mental Health Law Centre principal solicitor Sandra Boulter says there were probably several errors.
"There are a series of people, there were the police, there were the admitting staff, there's presumably the treating psychiatrist, and the Aboriginal Health Service, all of whom could possibly have identified the error," she told AM.
"It is always the case when there is a mistake, as even an airline pilot will tell you, it is never one mistake, it is a series of errors that accumulate leading up to the big error.
"I think it is a critically important that an independent person such as an official visitor is appointed or contacted so there is independent oversight of any admission."
Ms Boulter says this is not the first time an incident like this has occurred.
"I am certainly aware of one patient, one client of ours, who was admitted mistakenly and another two clients who were admitted on a false report where [it] was subsequently established that they did not have a psychiatric illness," she said.
She says she it is not sure if authorities are aware of the second incident.
"I'm not sure about that," she said.
"Our clients were unwilling to complain about what happened to them because they were fearful of being further traumatised by taking an action against the state."
Ms Boulter says she wants to confirm that authorities are in contact with the wrongfully detained man.
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