The impact of judicial review of patients' refusal to accept antipsychotic medications at the Minnesota Security Hospital.

M. G. Farnsworth,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law 19(1): 33-42, 1991.
In 1988, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that premedication judicial review was required to force antipsychotic medications on incompetent committed patients in Minnesota. Before this decision all patients refusing antipsychotic medications at state hospitals were reviewed by an internal multidisciplinary peer review organization called the Treatment Review Panel (TRP). The author examined the impact of judicial review of medications at the Minnesota Security Hospital. Thirty-one patients reviewed by the Treatment Review Panel (TRP) between July 1986 and December 1987 were compared with 37 patients reviewed by the TRP and the court between January 1988 and December 1989. There was nearly unanimous agreement between the TRP and the court in approving antipsychotic medications for patients. However, for patients awaiting judicial review for medication, an average delay of 80 days was encountered, and there was a significant increase in the number of emergencies occurring on the treatment unit before the initiation of treatment. Complications of the long delay in approving medications included the diversion of limited mental health money to cover the costs of judicial review, diversion of physicians from direct patient care to provide testimony, inconsistent judicial medication and monitoring decisions, and compromise of medical judgment to meet judicial requirements. The study concluded that there was no advantage of judicial review over the previous Treatment Review Panel function.