The Australian, by Joel Magarey
July 26, 2013 12:00AM
COERCIVE psychiatric practices have been linked to numerous deaths, hundreds of patient and nurse injuries and countless episodes of lasting mental trauma, an investigation by The Australian shows.
Psychiatrists in top-tier hospital and government roles have acknowledged high rates of harm associated with the “dangerous” practices, while official documents have revealed “gruesome” related injuries.
The investigation also reveals:
- A world-first Australian study has found that 47 per cent of patients interviewed after a seclusion experience reported levels of distress as high as those found in post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Seclusion is used “in the vast majority” of cases without alternatives having been first attempted, according to one of Australia’s leading experts in seclusion reduction;
- The coercive procedures, designed to increase safety, are instead drawing patients and staff into a “cycle” of violence and aggression on wards, experts say.
The revelations and new claims follow a report in The Australian last week of a sensitive government study showing Australian hospitals are locking up patients in seclusion at high and highly variable rates, sparking claims of illegality and human rights abuses.