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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 37 (1995) 9

New research

On the threshold of the BOPZ: results of research on the legal position of involuntarily committed psychiatric patients, before the introduction of the Psychiatric Hospitals Compulsory Admission Act

C.J. van de Klippe, M.A. Franchimont

The Psychiatric Hospitals Compulsory Admission Act (Wet Bijzondere Opnemingen in Psychiatrische Ziekenhuizen, BOPZ) was introduced in The Netherlands in January 1994, and will be evaluated in 1997, when both its intended and unintended effects will be assessed. Such an evaluation is only possible, however, if placed in the light of the situation prevailing prior to the introduction of the Act. The present study of the rights of involuntarily committed psychiatric patients, therefore, focuses on the situation prior to 1994, i.e. during the Summer of 1993, before the Act was officially brought into operation. The findings indicate that the then current practice was often far removed from the provisions contained in the Act for safeguarding the legal rights of involuntarily committed psychiatric patients. The study has also spotlighted the areas of greatest difference between every-day practice in 1993 and the legal requirements of the Act as from 1994. It is hoped that the focus on these discrepancies will help the hospitals and their staffs to properly implement both the spirit and the content of the Act, for the benefit of the patients in their care.