Specific phobia in early period of puerperium. Case report and its legal aspects
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Psychiatr Pol 2010;44(4):593-600
A 28 year old woman with a specific phobia of being in hospital, three hours after having given birth to her baby, demanded to be discharged from the hospital, in spite of having been informed by the obstetrician that her life was threatened because of an intrauterine infection that might cause sepsis. The patient decided to stay in hospital after several long-lasting psychiatric consultations including psychotherapeutic interventions. The patient did not recognise that her fear was excessive and unreasonable, i.e., did not meet one of the criteria of specific phobia. She gradually regained criticism toward her symptoms within approximately one day. This indicates that patients with specific phobia confronted with a phobic situation may temporarily loose awareness that their fears are unreasonable and/or too intensive and may express beliefs similar to psychotic delusions. This situation faced the team of doctors with potential legal problems that might appear if the patient had definitely refused to stay in the hospital. Polish law does not allow to treat such patients against their will on non-psychiatric hospital wards. However, in the case of a definite phobia diagnosis there is no legal way to hospitalise a patient against his or her will on a psychiatric ward.
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