The internment of patients undergoing treatment for alcohol addiction as a result of a specific interpretation of legal provisions by some judicial authorities
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Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego w Kielcach
Collegium Medicum Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego w Kielcach
Submission date: 2022-01-12
Final revision date: 2022-07-23
Acceptance date: 2022-10-13
Online publication date: 2023-03-09
Publication date: 2023-03-09
Corresponding author
Kamila Kocańda   

Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego w Kielcach
In the Polish legal system, each medical procedure requires patient’s consent. Exemptions from the obligation to obtain such a consent are limited by the legislator to exceptional situations, i.e., when the delay caused by the procedure for obtaining consent would pose a threat to patient’s life, serious injury, or serious health impairment. Undergoing addiction treatment is also voluntary. Exceptions to this principle are stipulated by a legal act. People who abuse alcohol and therefore break down family life, demoralize minors, avoid the obligation to meet the needs of their families, or systematically disturb peace or public order, may be obliged to undergo addiction treatment in an inpatient or outpatient treatment centre on condition that they are addicted to alcohol. A patient who fails to report to the medical entity designated by the court to execute the decision on the obligation to undertake addiction treatment may be brought to this entity by the police. In the context of the obligation to obtain a consent for treatment by a person against whom a court decision containing an obligation in this respect has been issued, there are discrepancies in the application of law provisions. In some medical entities, this results in the forced continuation of addiction treatment by a given patient in hospital, as discharge from the hospital depends on a court order issued in this regard, not on the consent of the patient himself/herself. In other medical entities, patients are not admitted for treatment due to the lack of such a consent, despite the court’s obligation in this respect. The article confirms that a specific practice of applying the law, which downgrades the role of the patient’s consent in the therapeutic process, has negative consequences for the effectiveness of the therapy.
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