The Constitutional Court rejects the action for the compulsory treatment of people with dementia

The question of whether people with dementia can be secretly mixed into their food in nursing homes remains unanswered for the time being.

Karlsruhe – The Federal Constitutional Court dismissed the complaint of a person concerned against a new regulation introduced in 2017, which allows compulsory treatment of people in care only during an inpatient clinic stay. The man, who has now died at almost 90 years of age, should have first turned to the specialized courts, the highest court in Karlsruhe announced on Tuesday. Without this step, too many questions would still be unanswered. (Az. 1 BvR 1575/18)

The proceedings had been conducted by the man’s daughter, who was also his supervisor. Due to his advanced dementia, the father repeatedly had delusional disorders and then refused to take his medication. The admission to a hospital did not seem a good solution because he regularly felt worse when he moved. However, the supervisory court did not want to allow the secret administration of medication in the nursing home – compulsory treatment was only permitted in the hospital as an inpatient.

The judges of the responsible chamber are now expressing doubts as to whether approval from the supervision court would actually have been necessary. The extent to which an admixture of medication contradicts the patient’s wishes has not been clarified by the specialist court. But it depends on whether it is even a coercive medical measure. The court also pointed out that the law provides for an evaluation of the new regulation. As a result, “further technical and legal clarification can be expected”.

The new paragraph 1906a in the civil code goes back to a decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. Before that, compulsory treatment was only possible in the closed psychiatry. Therefore, generally no bedridden patients who were in a normal clinic could be forcibly treated. In 2016, Karlsruhe ordered this gap to be “closed immediately”. (dpa)

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