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2011: Restrictions of freedom

Involuntary internment

According to Law no. 180 of 13 May 1978 on Voluntary and Obligatory Health Assessments and Treatment, people can be admitted to hospital for treatment without consent if their mental condition renders urgent treatment necessary and this can only be carried out in a hospital (Delpérée, 1991).

In line with article 33 Law no. 180 of 13 May 1978 on Voluntary and Obligatory Health Assessments and Treatment, obligatory health treatment must be carried out with respect for the person's dignity and his/her civil and political rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution. On the basis of a request from a doctor, the Mayor decides on the necessity to administer obligatory health assessments and treatment. Any person may appeal against this decision and a decision must be made within 10 days.

If a person is suffering from a mental disorder, the tutelary judge judges the affair within 48 hours and informs the mayor of his/her decision. It is also the responsibility of the tutelary judge to take the necessary measures to protect the person's possessions. The person concerned by the obligatory treatment and any other interested party may appeal against the judge's decision, as can the mayor.

Coercive measures

Article 51 of the Italian Code of Medical Ethics of 2006 states that in the case of obligatory medical treatment, the doctor must not solicit or engage in coercive measures, except in case of real need and on the condition that the person’s dignity respected and that this is in accordance with the law. 

Under the Italian Code of Ethics of Nursing of 2009, it is stated that nurses shall ensure that restraint is only used under exceptional circumstances (art. 30). Should a nurse discover the existence of abuse or deprivation, s/he must take all measures to protect the patient and if necessary, report this to the relevant authorities (art. 33).


To avoid the risk of harm to themselves or others resulting from people with dementia driving a car, a relative (up to fourth degree), the support administrator or guardian, a special prosecutor or the prosecutor may file an application to the Office of Motor Vehicles, which in turn will inform the person concerned of the need to undergo a medical test at the Local Medical Committee for Driving Licenses (established in each province at the local health unit) and asking him/her to refrain from driving pending a decision.

Article 119 of the Highway Code states that the normal primary care doctor can request that the person with dementia goes to the Local Medical Committee for Driving Licenses if the outcome of clinical, instrumental and laboratory tests arouses doubts concerning that person’s suitability and ability to drive safely.


Delpérée, N. (1991),La protection des droits et des libertés des citoyens âgés, La Nef



Last Updated: Wednesday 14 March 2012


  • Acknowledgements

    The above information was published in the 2011 Dementia in Europe Yearbook as part of Alzheimer Europe's 2011 Work Plan which received funding from the European Union in the framework of the Health Programme. AE also gratefully acknowledges the support it received from Fondation Médéric Alzheimer for its project on restrictions of freedom and for the publication of its Yearbook.
  • European Union
  • Fondation Médéric Alzheimer