2011: Restrictions of freedom
The conditions for involuntary internment
A person with a severe mental illness who refuses hospitalization may be admitted against his/her will only if it is clear from his/her actions that there is a real danger that by his/her actions s/he may cause serious harm to his/her health or life or to the health or life of other people (article 27 of Law No. I-924 on Mental Health of 1995). Hospitalization in this law is defined as admission to psychiatric institution as a patient.
The procedure for involuntary internment
If the above conditions have been fulfilled, the person shall be taken by the police for involuntary hospitalization at the request of his/her representative or in accordance with a doctor’s instructions or an order of the district court judge. A medical doctor must be present during the involuntary hospitalisation of the person (Article 28).
The person may then be involuntarily admitted to hospital and treated for a period not exceeding 72 hours without the consent of the Municipal Mental Health Commission (MMHC).
If authorisation from the MMHC is requested by the administration of the mental health facility within 72 hours, it may be possible to extend the involuntary hospitalisation and treatment of the patient for no longer than one month from the date of initial admission to hospital. The decision whether to extend the involuntary hospitalisation is made by the MMHC on the basis of a psychiatrist’s recommendations.
A person with a mental disorder who is being involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility must acknowledge that s/he has been informed of this fact and of his/her rights. If he or she is unable or unwilling to sign such a statement, it must be testified in writing by two witnesses who may be mental health facility staff members but not psychiatrists (article 30).
If a person’s hospitalization is in violation of the requirements of the Law on Mental Health, the person responsible for the illegal hospitalization shall be held liable according to the laws of the Republic of Lithuania (article 31).
The duration of involuntary internment
Should it be necessary to extend the involuntary hospitalisation and treatment further than that mentioned above (article 28), the administration of the mental health facility may apply to the district court. The latter may decide to either prolong or terminate the hospitalisation, each time for a period not exceeding six months. The hospitalisation may be terminated before the end of a six month period by the administration of the mental health facility on the recommendation of the attending psychiatrist.
Coercive measures, according to the Law No. I-924 on Mental Health of 1995, are strongly linked to the involuntary internment and are regulated in Articles 16 and 13.
Part 3 of the Article 16 states that ´a patient can be submitted to a coercive treatment only if he was involuntarily admitted to hospital according to the rules set out in Article 28´ (see above).
In Part 2 of the Article 13 it is stated that:
“The actions of the patient can be restricted only in cases when there is a real danger that the person, by his/her own actions, can cause an essential damage to his/her health or life, or to the health and life of the others. Such coercive treatment measures have to be immediately noted in his/her case-record (medical record) by his/her psychiatrist.”
According to the Article 20 of the Law No. I-924 on Mental Health of 1995, the patient, or his legal representative has the right to report any breach of patients´ rights, which are set out in this law, to the administration of the psychiatric facility, Ministry of Healthcare or the court.
Any involuntary internment of the patient which was not carried out according to the rules set out in Articles 27-30 of the Law on Mental Health of 1995, will be punished on the basis of Article 146 of the Criminal Code of Lithuania which is governing the unlawful deprivation of liberty of persons.
All drivers or persons, who are trying to obtain a driver’s license, have to undergo a regular medical check-up to assess their physical and psychological suitability for becoming a driver. The procedure is regulated by ministerial order, signed by the Minister of Healthcare (at the moment it is Order No. 301 (year 2000, updated in 2008) of the Minister of Healthcare.
In the case of mental or behavioural disorders, such as serious mental disorder, which are inborn or caused by illness, trauma or neurological surgery, severe dementia or severe behavioural disorders due to ageing.
Periodicity of regular medical check-ups is the following:
- persons under 55 years of age - once in 10 years,
- persons under 69 years of age - once in 5 years,
- persons under 79 years of age - once in 2 years,
- persons above 80 years of age - once a year.
Last Updated: Wednesday 14 March 2012