I was a victim of forced treatment!!

root - Posted on 31 December 1969

One survivor of forced treatment responds to Newsom's resolution to possibly implement forced treatment

by Dee/PNN

I personally was subjected to forced treatment at UCSF Emergency Room.
One night I felt tightness in my chest that did not go away so I went to UC emergency room. I was given the preliminary test for heart problems- (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.)
These tests showed no special problem other than my heart rate was a bit elevated.

Then a blood test was taken for triponin levels. The test made me uncomfortable. I am not at ease with any medical procedures and when the technician tried repeatedly to get blood from my right arm I became more anxious. I told him that due to my small veins, blood is always taken from my left arm-, which he finally listened to and did with success.

I decided right then that I was going to leave the emergency room- my chest tightness had subsided and I had had enough tests to determine I was OK. The blood test had me anxious about being there as I am never comfortable with medical procedures and try to avoid them whenever possible.

When the OD (Doctor on duty) told me my Troponin level was mildly elevated and that I should stay in the emergency room for 24-48 hours. I did not agree. I told the nurse who came in soon after the doctor that I wanted to check out. She agreed and brought me the proper forms.Just the thought of staying in the Emergency Room had made me feel worse again.

However, when the nurse showed my signed form to the doctor, the doctor came in the room and told me, no way was she going to let me check out, and that she was going to ask a psychiatrist to evaluate me because anyone in their right mind would never leave if their troponin levels were elevated and that I must be “5150”.

"5150" means you can be held against your will for a period of time as a psychiatric patient.

My stomach plummeted to my feet when the doctor told me I could not leave. Being a social worker I understood the ramification of being held against one’s will for psychiatric reasons. Then my heart started beating faster than ever. I can’t describe the panic I felt – that this was actually happening to me and that I could do nothing.

I actually tried to walk out of the ER but the doctor told me she was posting security at my door until I could see a psychiatrist.

I could not believe this was happening to me. I asked the doctor if I could try to reach my doctor as a way of getting “permission” from him to leave. I thought he could override her decision.

Luckily my doctor is inthe general medicine practice at UC and was available that night. He told her it would be OK for me to leave as if was typical of me to refuse treatment and refuse medical procedures and that I was not “5150”. He knew me and knew that this was my personality and that refusal of further treatment was not aberrant behavior for me.

The emergency room doctor listened to my Dr. and said I could leave but she still thought I must be “5150” to want to leave and that she would have to give me a little reality test first before she would let me go. This test consisted of asking me:

1)who was president
2) what day it was
3) what month it was
4) what year it was

Because I started laughing at the "who was president" question she got annoyed and told me I’d better take this seriously- which I did and was allowed to leave shortly thereafter.

While in the emergency room I noticed a rather disheveled woman waiting who was talking and laughing to her stuffed elephant. She was also waiting for treatment. I was not sure if she knew she was being held or if it was against her will but she was being watched by security and told to not get out of her chair or leave the ER.

I called the ER doctor back later and asked her what if I had not been in touch with my Dr.? what would she have done? I also told her this experience was FORCED TREATMENT, which she denied.

I also found out later that slightly elevated troponin levels can be always elevated in some people and would require future testing to determine that diagnosis- which I never did.

I had intended to contact the ethics committee at UC but never felt like I wanted to continue to deal with the issue or their response because I believed they would support the hospital staff anyway and even now I can still feel the pain I felt when I was told I could not leave the ER and I had to do what the ER doctor said whether I wanted to or not- I still feel fear when I think about her saying that to me and I’m afraid to go to UC emergency room again even if and when I have any medical problems.


From Substance Abuse and Mental Health Work Group of the Coalition on Homelessness

Supervisor Gavin Newsom has introduced a resolution to look into
implementing AB 1421 (forced outpatient treatment) in San Francisco.
The hearing on this measure to coerce and criminalize people with
mental health disabilities will be some time this month, so stay

Meanwhile, we are looking to gather together opponents.

Here is an endorsement form and information on this bill. Thanks for
you consideration.

Please fill out and return:

HART (Healthy Access To Real Treatment)

468 Turk St., SF 94102 ph: 415.346.3740 fax:415.775-5639



this dangerous policy.
No to Forced Treatment. No to AB1421.



Phone_______________________ email_________________________

______ I am an opponent against the implementation of AB1421, but do not want my name signed on to the statement

______ I will sign on to this statement.

_____individual endorsement

_____organizational endorsement

_____I am interested in participating directly in the fight against AB1421

I can help with the following:

______ Obtaining additional endorsements

______ Speaking at public meetings

______ Meetings with City officials

______ Joining the HART(Healthy Access to Real Treatment) Committee


Reasons to Oppose the Forced Treatment
of People Living with Mental Health Disabilities
Supervisor Gavin Newsom has proposed to have the San Francisco public
health system adopt AB1421, which expands the forced treatment of
people diagnosed with mental health disabilities. Across the
spectrum, from San Francisco Department of Public Health officials to
hospitals and community based clinics, the vast majority of treatment
providers object to this needless plan because it won't work. Our
public mental health infrastructure is already strained to the limit
providing services for those who voluntarily seek treatment.
This measure is not only a financial disaster, it's a clinical and ethical
one as well. It is a financial disaster due to more police and public
defender costs. The law itself states that it cannot replace
voluntary services and there is no identified source for new money.
Broadly expanding criteria for coercive treatment and placing
mental health workers in the position of carrying out judgments of
the courts will only increase client fear of being institutionalized
or forced to take medication against their will. Further, it
undermines the trust and confidentiality between clinician and client
upon which successful treatment depends. When the State Senate passed
Bill 1421 politicians wisely offered each county -the option whether
or not to implement this legislation. If adopted in San Francisco it
would set the precedent for a statewide movement to greatly expand
the criteria for involuntary treatment beyond danger to self/others
and gravely disabled
Under AB1421, we would heave patients' rights back four decades by
allowing any person with a family or professional relationship to a
person with a mental health disability to request a petition to be
filed for an involuntary treatment hearing. The court may then order
outpatient treatment not to exceed six months. If the person
refuses to participate, they may then be detained for 72 hours in
addition to the already established involuntary hold procedures.
San Francisco has historically opposed forced treatment. Why
do we need to continue to do so?
Adopting AB 1421 would be a giant step backwards towards the criminalization
of serious mental health disabilities. The enforcement by police
officers will disproportionately effect homeless people and people of
color. Police already respond to the majority of calls for/about
people in mental and emotional crisis. This is traumatizing and
counterproductive. Police are not social workers. With the highest
rate of hospitalizations (5150's) in the state, SF does not need
enhancement in its ability to force people into treatment.


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