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2011: Restrictions of freedom

Involuntary internment

The reasons for involuntary internment

According to §6 of Act No. 576 on Healthcare, health-related services and on the amendment and supplementing of certain laws of 22 September 2004 (HHS), inpatient care can be provided without informed consent if:

  1. the person has a mental illness or symptoms of a mental defect AND
  2. poses a threat to him/herself or to his/her environment, OR
  3. there is a risk of serious deterioration of his/her state of health.

The procedure for involuntary internment

If a patient is admitted to hospital for inpatient care without his/her informed consent, the healthcare provider must notify a court covering the territory of the inpatient health care facility within 24 hours. The court then rules on the legitimacy of the reasons for taking the person into inpatient care. Until the Court has made a decision, only life-saving medical care or measures to protect the person’s surroundings are permitted (§9 (4)).

Duration of involuntary internment

As soon as the reasons for involuntary admission cease to exist, either the patient must be released or s/he (or his/her legal representative/tutor) must consent to the further provision of health care (§9 (5)). In the case of a person who is unable to consent, their legal representative must be notified before they are released.

There does not seem to be any mention of a set time limit after which the involuntary admission must be reviewed.



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