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Systematic violations of patients’ rights and safety: Forced medication of a cohort of 30 patients

Peter C Gøtzsche , Anders Sørensen

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2020.085


We assessed the records for 30 consecutive patients who had appealed decisions about forced medication with antipsychotics to the Psychiatric Appeals Board in Denmark. In all 21 cases where there was information about the effects of previous drugs, the psychiatrists stated that antipsychotics had had a good effect whereas none of the patients shared this view. The harm caused by earlier or currently used antipsychotics did not seem to have played any role in the psychiatrists’ decision-making. The legal requirements for using force to protect the patients’ health were never met and less intrusive treatments than antipsychotics, eg, benzodiazepines or psychotherapy, were never mentioned as options. The power imbalance was extreme, the patients felt misunderstood and ignored, their legal protection was a sham, and the harm done was immense. The violation of patient rights is a global problem. We suggest that forced medication be abandoned.

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