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Psychiatrists ordered to cooperate with police

Psychiatrists ordered to cooperate with police

© AGN Moscow

Psychiatrists in the dispensary observation of people with severe mental disorders will have to cooperate with the police, and patients or their legal representatives will be required to inform the doctor about changing their place of residence or leaving the region. This follows from the order of the Ministry of Health, which approved changes in the procedure for monitoring people suffering from mental disorders. The document was published on November 30 on the official Internet portal of legal information.

Tightened control

The order of the Ministry of Health will come into force on March 1, 2023 and will be valid until March 1, 2029. The document amends the procedure for dispensary observation of people suffering from chronic and protracted mental disorders with severe persistent manifestations. We are talking about the most serious group of active dispensary observation – D-5. It includes patients who are prone to socially dangerous actions, as well as those who have already committed offenses.

According to the order, a psychiatrist will have to interact with police officers and penitentiary inspections to “prevent socially dangerous actions” during dispensary observation of such patients. In addition, the requirements for the execution of medical documentation on the results of a dispensary admission of a patient have been adjusted. Now the record will include information about the severity of the mental disorder, the existing violations of social functioning, the patient’s compliance with the frequency of dispensary appointments and the prescribed treatment. Also, the doctor must indicate whether there are reasons to refer the patient to a hospital, and determine whether he needs psychosocial rehabilitation.

In addition, the document obliges the patient or his legal representative to inform his doctor about the change of residence. So, if the patient has left the region for more than a month, he must notify his psychiatrist about this two weeks before departure, informing him of his new place of residence. When moving, the patient is obliged to attach himself to a new dispensary, the doctor of which must send a request about the patient’s diagnosis to the clinic where he was observed earlier.

Prevent crime

Changes in the procedure for dispensary observation of people with severe mental illness will help prevent crimes that such patients can commit, commented on the document, the deputy chairman of the medical workers’ union, a psychiatrist Mikhail Androchnikov. According to him, doctors were given more freedom of action – to which group to attribute patients and with what frequency to observe. Positive changes include a provision that gives psychiatrists the right to apply to law enforcement agencies before people with mental illness commit socially dangerous actions.

“These changes are aimed at public safety,” the specialist emphasized. “Because recently the number of offenses committed by such patients has begun to increase due to the fact that dispensary supervision has been somewhat weakened for them. With a high probability of committing crimes, law enforcement officers will be required to leave and help the team of doctors to hospitalize the patient. Or, I think, they can take him to the department, where a psychiatrist will then come to examine the patient.

Androchnikov also noted that the new order of the Ministry of Health will prevent people with severe mental disorders from hiding from dispensary observation when moving to another region. According to him, now patients who seek to avoid medical supervision will not be able, for example, to obtain a permit for weapons or driving in a new place of residence. This is also an important and correct change, the specialist is sure.

According to statistics, about 3.9 million people suffer from mental disorders in Russia. More than 1.4 million patients are under dispensary observation. Such data in May 2022 at a press conference at the Rossiya Segodnya MIA was given by Svetlana Shport, General Director of the Serbian National Research Center for Psychiatry and Narcology. The expert also noted that there are five groups of dispensary observation of patients with mental illness. A group of active dispensary observation was singled out separately. It includes two categories of patients – those suffering from severe mental disorders, prone to socially dangerous actions, as well as those who have already committed offenses.

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Once a year

Earlier, deputies of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg took the initiative to tighten control over people with serious mental disorders. They proposed to oblige neuropsychiatric dispensaries to send information about potentially dangerous patients to the police at least once a month, as well as promptly notify law enforcement officers if a mentally ill person has not appeared at home for a long time.

Petersburg deputies appealed to the heads of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Internal Affairs with a request to consider the possibility and expediency of amending the Law “On Psychiatric Care and Guarantees of the Rights of Citizens in its Provision” and adjusting the instruction of April 30, 1997 “On Measures to Prevent Socially Dangerous Actions of Persons with Mental Health disorders.” The reason for this was the tragedy in Izhevsk, which occurred on September 26, when a mentally ill person opened fire in one of the city’s schools.

According to the current instructions, information about people with mental disorders that may be dangerous to others, doctors must transfer to law enforcement agencies only once a year – until January 20. A change of residence must be reported promptly, but no deadline has been set. According to the St. Petersburg deputies, this should be done more often – once a month, which will help prevent crimes committed by people with mental disorders.


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