The phenomenon of patient homicides committed by health service employees has, in the previous years, repeatedly aroused much attention. The cases made known in Germany, the USA, Holland, Norway, and Austria appear to provide evidence to the effect that we are not only dealing with unique incidents. The scientific investigation of this especially sensitive taboo-topic is, to date, missing. The judicial trials carried out emphatically indicate that culprit motives, colleague behavior, but also to a large extent decisions made by superiors remain unclear. It remains controversial, what effect working conditions, strain of employees, their level of education and personal viewpoints over such criminal acts they possess. Finally, the long latency period between the first internal suspicions and the responsible parties' appropriate reactions requires duplicatable explanation. The following paper presents a German single-case study of patient homicide by a female nurse. The focus on causality rests on the presentation of developments up to the point where the long-fermenting suspicion could no longer be dismissed, and appropriate consequences took place. The account largely avoids the "definite" findings required during the judicial process. It concerns rather above all an open, uncertain, and possibly without external influence course of development which in stages each colleague in the health professions can trace, to the point where the uncertain and horrifying suspicion became a certainty. With this single-case study in hand it is made understandable in which ways personal circumstances and professional conditions at the worksituation can intertwine in such a way that the original motivation to help turns into its abysmal opposite. It is the author's intention to make preventive learning possible through this single case study. Every employee in the health professions should proceed on the assumption that such occurrences could also in his own field of work come to pass. In this respect, it is of considerable importance to differentiate between hasty and untenable incriminations and original increasing early-warning signs.
The Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) of Waterloo Region, in partnership with a number of other social service agencies, designed and implemented a restorative justice model applicable to older adults who have been abused by an individual in a position of trust. The project was very successful in building partnerships, as many community agencies came together to deal with the problem of elder abuse. The program also raised the profile of elder abuse in the community. However, despite intensive efforts, referrals to the restorative justice program were quite low. Because of this, the program moved to a new organizational model, the Elder Abuse Response Team (EART), which has retained the guiding philosophy of restorative justice but has broadened the mandate. The team has evolved into a conflict management system that has multiple points of entry for cases and multiple options for dealing with elder abuse. The team has developed a broad range of community partners who can facilitate referrals to the EART and also can help to provide an individualized response to each case. The transition to the EART has been successful, and the number of referrals has increased significantly.
This paper constitutes the first stage of data analysis in a larger controlled study designed to assess the effect of a forensic psychiatric assessment on legal disposition defined in three ways: 1. the number of days spent in custody prior to trial; 2. the number of sentenced days of incarceration; and 3. the conviction rate. A historical cohort design was used to follow two cohorts of individuals remanded, pretrial, to Southern Alberta Provincial Correctional Centres between 1988 and 1989. The study cohort consisted of all offenders detained who received a forensic psychiatric assessment. The comparison cohort consisted of a random sample of persons detained who did not undergo a forensic assessment. Because of small numbers, individuals below the age of 18 and women were excluded from study. This paper compares socio-legal characteristics of study and comparison subjects in order to better understand forensic psychiatric referral patterns and identify potentially confounding factors that would need to be controlled in subsequent analyses of legal outcomes. No differences were noted with respect to educational level but forensic subjects were found to be slightly older (average of 31 years compared to 29 years). Aboriginal peoples (Native Indian, Inuit and Metis) were three times more common among non-forensic offenders. Forensic patients were more likely to have had a prior forensic assessment but less likely to have a prior criminal detention. In addition, forensic patients were three times more likely to be charged with a crime against a person and counted more offenses in the target episode than comparison subjects.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
New techniques have influenced the attitude to the autopsy and contribute to a de-emphasis on the importance of post-mortem examination. Since 1990, new Danish legislation has provoked a dramatic fall in the autopsy rate, which had already declined from 45% in 1970 to 35% in 1980. In the first half of 1990 the rate was 24% in the second half of that same year it had fallen to 16% (
The Danish National Institute of Health, 1992). The clinicians now seem to manage without the autopsy to confirm or correct their daily diagnostics. They also seem to be of the opinion that they do well without this "final checklist". The autopsy, however, is still an important tool in understanding, correcting and improving future diagnosis. Therefore, post-mortems should again be carried out as a matter of course and common practice. The following proposals are all aimed at obtaining a higher autopsy rate: The 1990 legislation on autopsy should be changed so that permission to perform a post-mortem can be given in due time, before the supposed death, preferably by the patient himself and obviously with the right to a subsequent change of mind. It is of great importance that the Public Health Service informs both the public and health workers in general about the nature and importance of the autopsy. Likewise, doctors and health workers in general should be educated in how best to give information to patients. Pathologists should, through a more uniform and exact practice, encourage the clinicians to a renewal of the close collaboration concerning the facts revealed by the autopsy, both in their everyday practice and in scientific projects in general.
Until recently, the Criminal Code of Canada, enacted in 1892, stood stalwart to social, political and technological changes, particularly with respect to the regulations pertaining to the management of the mentally ill offender. This became more definitely so with the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1984) as many regulations in the Code about mentally ill offenders contravened the mandates contained in the Charter. The Supreme Court of Canada's decision on Regina v. Swain spurred the Federal Government to bring the regulations on the mentally ill offender into line with the Charter. The result was the enactment of Bill C-30 which was intended to dramatically change the way in which forensic psychiatry was practised in Canada. This paper presents the Alberta findings from a multi-site evaluation commissioned by the Federal Department of Justice to judge the effects of Bill C-30 on forensic health care practices.
Health records data were used to compare utilization patterns from the year prior to the enactment of Bill C-30 with the year following. In addition, qualitative data were obtained from key clinical and legal informants outlining implementation difficulties that they had experienced.
Results support the judgement that Bill C-30 has not achieved its desired effects with respect to the length of the remand, and has resulted in an increased burden on hospitals and health care providers. In addition, an unanticipated finding was the increased use of the Mental Health Act which was considered to place forensic patients in a position of double jeopardy.
Comment In: Can J Psychiatry. 1995 Jun;40(5):223-47553539
Our objective was to study the outcomes experienced by 2 communities after implementing pretrial diversion of offenders with mental illness.
The same method of diversion was implemented in a predominately urban and a predominantly rural county. We collected retrospective clinical and offence data from pretrial diversion assessments conducted in court. As well, we measured outcome for the diversion procedure in terms of actual vs expected rates of recidivism.
Prior psychiatric treatment was associated with the diverted group, and a criminal history was associated with the nondiverted group. In the larger, urban county the diversion option was offered more often to persons with psychoses, mood disorders, and minor offenses. Conversely, in the smaller rural county diversion was offered most often to persons accused of serious offenses. The recidivism found in urban and rural diverted groups after a year of supervised care was only 2% to 3%, but the rate of use of diversion in both counties was low, owing to selection biases.
Pretrial diversion of offenders with mental illness accused of minor crimes is eminently feasible for both urban and rural settings, provided that police, crown, and treatment policies are coordinated to favour the treatment option rather than prosecution.