Psychiatric Patient Mistreatment Ireland
Patients at Portlaoise hospital held in isolation until they showed ‘remorse’
The Mental Health Commission has carried out a focused inspection of the psychiatric unit at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.
This followed issues raised following a routine inspection of the unit in December 2015.
The report highlights not only the ethically unacceptable actions of
The inspector’s report noted, amongst other matters:
- One patient spent 12 days in seclusion without a shower or being allowed visitors
- The same patient said the window blinds were never opened and they cried themselves to sleep.
- Nine individuals had prolonged episodes in seclusion ranging from 80 hours to 576 hours and 30 minutes (more than 24 days).
The inspectors’ report said the “general principle” was “that seclusion is not prolonged beyond the period which is strictly necessary to prevent immediate and serious harm to the patient or others”. But the report notes this “was not adhered to” in all cases.
The Mental Health Commission Rules Governing the Use of Seclusion and Mechanical Means of Bodily Restraint pursuant to Section 69(2) of the Mental Health Act 2001 provide for the following:
‘You should only be secluded for as long as is needed to stop you harming yourself or others. This means that seclusion must end when you are no longer a serious threat to yourself or others. You can only be secluded for a maximum of eight hours at first. After eight hours, a doctor must review you and may decide that you still need to be secluded. If they decide this, they must make a renewal order that allows you to be secluded for up to another eight hours.
If your seclusion lasts for 24 hours straight, your consultant psychiatrist or the duty consultant psychiatrist must examine you before making any further order.’
The Mental Health Act provides for summary prosecution of a director, manager, secretary or other officer of the body corporate, as well as the body corporate, who is proved to have committed an offence under the Act. The patients involved will have a cause of action, either by way of a claim for negligence, recklessness or trespass to the person, depending on the level of intention involved in the actions of the mental health staff responsible for the care and treatment of Portlaoise Hospital’s psychiatric patients.