Boston State Hospital Case Study

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Fact: This class action involves a multi-faceted attack against certain medication and seclusion policies allegedly followed at the May and Austin Units of the Boston State Hospital (Hospital), a state institution for the mentally ill. The named plaintiffs, all either voluntary or involuntary patients at one time or another at these facilities, seek injunctive relief for the class,[1] and award of money damages for themselves. Plaintiffs' basic grievance is that the defendants, all of whom have served on the Hospital staff, maintained policies of forced medication and involuntary seclusion in non-emergency circumstances. Plaintiffs allege that these policies infringed on the constitutional rights of Hospital patients. In addition, they allege that such policies violated standards of acceptable medical care. With respect to the challenged medication practices, plaintiffs theorize that, although they have a right to receive treatment when confined at a state mental institution, they, nonetheless, have a constitutional right to refuse such treatment. Plaintiffs acknowledge, however, that their asserted right to refuse treatment is not absolute, and must yield to the Hospital's right to …show more content…

On May 8, 1975, the parties agreed to an extension of the temporary restraining order until a hearing on preliminary or permanent relief was concluded. Such a hearing commenced in the fall of 1975 and continued for a period of six trial days. Further hearing was then suspended while the court and the parties attempted to settle the complex issues involved. Those efforts continued until June of 1976 when, because of seemingly irreconcilable differences, a merged trial on preliminary and permanent injunctive relief was scheduled for June 21,

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