Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Waiting in vain – getting tx in Pennsylvania

Liz Spikol, managing editor of Philadelphia Weekly wrote an excellent article addressing the involuntary commitment standard in Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia Weekly and on her blog she writes of the struggle to get treatment for people who lack insight into their illnesses.

"Since I started writing this column eight years ago, I’ve been flooded with requests for help from readers trying to get treatment for sick relatives or friends who are too psychotic and delusional to know they need it. These people are almost always turned away from hospitals because they don’t seem to present a clear and present danger—Pennsylvania’s current standard for involuntary treatment."

"Now when caregivers ask me for help with an urgent situation, I tell them the truth: There’s nothing you can do. You’ll have to wait until it gets so bad, it’s life or death."

Senate Bill 226 was introduces to address this problem. The bill would change the stringent dangerousness criteria currently used in Pennsylvania and allow for greater use of assisted outpatient treatment. In short, SB 226 would help Pennsylvania’s sickest citizens get needed treatment.

In her article, Spikol says it best:

"No one wants to go back to the days when involuntary hospitalization meant months or years of spurious and damaging treatment. "

"But when there are more mentally ill people in prisons than in hospitals, you know there’s a problem that calls for serious measures."

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