Mental Health and the Law
In caring for those with mental illness, physicians often find their guiding ethical principles in conflict with one another. Mental illness can impair a patient’s capacity to give informed consent to treatment, when consent is fundamental to medical ethics. Those with mental illness may also threaten their own well-being or that of others, causing physicians to restrict their action or report their threats. And the justice system may call on doctors to give testimony that is not in their patients’ best interest. Contributors to the October issue contend with these and other difficult ethical dilemmas.