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Revista de la Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría

On-line version ISSN 2340-2733Print version ISSN 0211-5735


RODRIGUEZ LAINZ, José Luis. On the care of patients with suicidal thoughts in emergency rooms: legal aspects. Rev. Asoc. Esp. Neuropsiq. [online]. 2016, vol.36, n.130, pp.325-345. ISSN 2340-2733.

One of the most complex problems for general doctors and specialists in psychiatry is the assessment of patients with suicidal thoughts. From the juridical point of view, medical procedures are restricted by the respect to the patient's capacity of self-determination and his/her dignity as a person. Under determined circumstances jurisprudence recognises a certain, but restricted, margin of permissiveness to the person's free decision to end voluntarily his/her life. The adequate care of these patients implies a correct anamnesis, an evaluation of the risk of materialising suicidal thoughts, the outline of a therapeutic strategy based on the careful assessment of stressful factors, the acceptance of the treatment by the patient through the so-called therapeutic contract, the design of a strategy based on external supports that can grant a good adherence to treatment and an effective follow-up of the patient's evolution. Precisely, the possible medical responsibility for malpractice concern the areas of diagnosis and therapeutic design, although always under the limits that mark the patient's capacity of self-determination and the respect for his/her dignity as person.

Keywords : suicidal ideas; capacity of self-determination; malpractice; medical responsibility.

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