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A Hospital Patient’s Bill of Rights for

Mentally Ill Patients

A Tract Book Essay

By

Anthony J. Fejfar, J.D., Esq., Coif

© Copyright 2007 by Anthony J. Fejfar

Many years ago I took a Health Care Ethics course at Creighton

University. The Philosophy professor teaching the course was Charles

Dougherty, now the President of Duquesne University. In this course we

studied the American Civil Liberties Union, Hospital Patient’s Bill of Rights.

In this Tract Book Essay, I propose a Mental Health Patient’s, Hospital Bill

of Rights. For purposes of this Tract Book Essay, the term “Mental Health

Hospital” shall include but not be limited to any facility which provides

inpatient psychiatric care to a Mental Health Patient.

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Mental Health Patient”s Hospital Bill of Rights

1. All Mental Health Patient’s (MHP’s) are to be treated with

respect and dignity by the staff and psychiatrists, and psychologists

at all times.

2. All MHP’s retain all their Constitutional Rights at Law, and as

persons in need, also have additional rights in Equity.

3. All MHPs have a right to reasonable medical and psychiatric

treatment.

4. All MHPs have a right to reasonable dental care.

5. All MHPs have a right to therapy from a qualified psychologist.

6. All MHPs have a right to outside recreational activities, such as

going for a walk outside, going to a movie, going bowling,

going shopping at a department store or bookstore, going out to

eat at a restaurant.

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7. All MHPs have a right to have their stay at the Mental Hospital to

be as short as possible.

8, All MHPs have a right to a snack bar on the Hospital Grounds

where one can buy a snack or soda.

9. All MHPs have a right to a Day Room with comfortable recliner

chairs during the waking hours.

10. All MHPs have a right to a Day Room equipped with Online

Computers and at least two television sets with DVD, VCR capabilities.

11. All MHP have a right to Library access on a Daily basis at the

Hospital or within short walking distance.

12. All MHP have a right not to be over medicated.

13. All MHP have a right not to be physically assaulted by the staff

or other MHPs.

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14. All MHP have a right not to be subjected to “protection”

shakedowns, or extortion for money.

15. All MHP cannot be criminally prosecuted for any actions which

they take while in a Mental Hospital.

16. All MHPs have a right to a CD player to listen to music while in

the Mental Health Hospital.

17. All MHPs have a right of access to a library of Music CDs, DVDs,

and VCR tapes.

18. All MHPs have a right to good tasting, wholesome, nutritious,

bland, food for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

19. All MHPs have a right to meaningful group therapy.

20. All MHPs have a right to art activities.

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21. All MHPs have a right to fresh fruit as a snack in the Day Room.

22. All MHPs have a right to Catholic Mass, or other religious services

in the Mental Hospital.

23. All MHPs have a right to Spiritual Direction.

24 All MHPs have a right to sit in comfortable chairs in an outside

garden, weather permitting.

25. All MHP have a Constitutional First Amendment right to their

own personal religious, political, and philosophical beliefs, as long

as the MHP is not threatening physical violence to another person.

26. A MHP can only be involuntarily committed by a Judge, either

elected or appointed.

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27. Any initial involuntary commitment can only be initiated with

a confinement warrant issued by a Judge, based upon clear and

convincing evidence that the MHP is a clear and present physical

danger to himself or a third person.

28. Every MHP has a right to daily visits and also has a right to

go on visits and outings with family or friends, or a volunteer.

The foregoing Rights can be supplemented. The foregoing Rights are

based upon Natural Law, Equity, and the prevention of Discrimination

against the Mentally Ill based upon the Equal Protection Clause of the

United States Constitution and in my opinion are enforceable against both

public and private actors.