Volume 37, Issue 3 (May 1992)
Prosecuting Assaultive Psychiatric Patients
For many reasons, inpatient psychiatric units are increasingly faced with treatment and management of violent individuals. This fosters a need to consider potential institutional responses to patient violence. This paper focuses on one response—prosecution of these persons. The existing literature on this topic is reviewed. In addition, the case history of a difficult but successful prosecution of an assaultive patient is presented. This case highlighted the development of guidelines, which are outlined herein, for determining the appropriateness of seeking legal action against patients. The paper concludes with an assessment of the benefits and risks associated with patient prosecution.