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Legal and Ethical Aspects:

In completing the case study, students will be addressing the following learning objectives: Identify the basic rights of people with mental illness. Describe the different types of commitments and states of competency.
1. Gerald, a 22-year-old black man, has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. Gerald has been living at home, but this afternoon he had a physical fight with the neighbors and set a fire in their garage to burn their house. His father took him to the local psychiatric hospital and said that he wants an involuntary commitment for Gerald since he will not agree to the hospitalization. The father expressed concern over Gerald?s legal rights. The psychiatric nurse practitioner recommends to the father that he commit Gerald on involuntarily for emergency care for a period of 72 hours since he is clearly a danger to others. The nurse explains that Gerald will be evaluated to determine if he needs involuntary detention for observation and treatment for a longer period of time. The nurse explains that Gerald will be periodically evaluated, and that when it is determined that he is no longer a danger to others or himself, Gerald will be released from the hospital.
(Learning Objectives: 4, 5)
a. What basic legal rights does Gerald have at the time of this illness?
b. Why can Gerald not make the decision for himself about being an involuntary emergency commitment to the hospital?