Thursday, February 4, 2010

Virginia attorney general wants more outpatient treatment for mentally ill -

Ken Cuccinelli headImage via Wikipedia

By Tom Jackman

One of the best ways to treat severely mentally ill people, experts say, is with mandatory outpatient treatment rather than forcing them into hospitals or institutions. After the shootings at Virginia Tech by a mentally ill student in 2007, the Virginia General Assembly changed the law the next year to allow more outpatient treatment.

But even fewer people were ordered into outpatient treatment in the law's first year.

So on Thursday, new Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) will push for a new law that would allow doctors to order patients into outpatient treatment after they are stabilized in a hospital or institution.

The law could save Virginia considerable money and open up more bed space by getting stable patients out of hospitals, Cuccinelli said. The attorney general also is seeking an increase in the time allowed for mental-health professionals to examine and evaluate people once they are taken into custody. That also would give patients more time to stabilize.

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