In re Stephen O.

[HEALTH LAW]

In In re Stephen O.,[1] the supreme court held that in an involuntary commitment hearing, the court must consider whether the psychiatric patient is able to live safely outside of a controlled environment.[2] In 2004 Stephen had heard voices that made him fearful and led him to seriously injure himself by jumping off a 16 to 18 foot ledge.[3] In 2009, Stephen claimed he began hearing the voice of Jesus telling him to repent and start attending church.[4] Accordingly, the lower court found Stephen gravely disabled and ordered his involuntary commitment to a mental facility and for his involuntary administration of psychotropic drugs.[5] The supreme court reversed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that in determining whether a patient is severely disabled, the court is not to consider if commitment would be preferable or in the patient’s best interest but whether the patient can live safely without commitment.[6] The lower court’s reliance upon hearsay, the patient’s history involving markedly different symptoms and his willingness to receive medical treatment all corroborate against a finding of being severely disabled.[7] Reversing the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that in involuntary commitment hearings, the court must consider whether the patient is able to live safely outside of a controlled environment.[8]

 



[1] 314 P.3d 1185 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 1193.

[3] Id. at 1187.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 1191.

[6] Id. at 1193.

[7] Id. at 1194–96.

[8] Id. at 1193.

In re Stephen O.

[HEALTH LAW]

In In re Stephen O.,[1] the supreme court held that in an involuntary commitment hearing, the court must consider whether the psychiatric patient is able to live safely outside of a controlled environment.[2] In 2004 Stephen had heard voices that made him fearful and led him to seriously injure himself by jumping off a 16 to 18 foot ledge.[3] In 2009, Stephen claimed he began hearing the voice of Jesus telling him to repent and start attending church.[4] Accordingly, the lower court found Stephen gravely disabled and ordered his involuntary commitment to a mental facility and for his involuntary administration of psychotropic drugs.[5] The supreme court reversed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that in determining whether a patient is severely disabled, the court is not to consider if commitment would be preferable or in the patient’s best interest but whether the patient can live safely without commitment.[6] The lower court’s reliance upon hearsay, the patient’s history involving markedly different symptoms and his willingness to receive medical treatment all corroborate against a finding of being severely disabled.[7] Reversing the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that in involuntary commitment hearings, the court must consider whether the patient is able to live safely outside of a controlled environment.[8]

 



[1] 314 P.3d 1185 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 1193.

[3] Id. at 1187.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 1191.

[6] Id. at 1193.

[7] Id. at 1194–96.

[8] Id. at 1193.