CME 22/10/15 – Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry and the Law

Here is Salam’s very informative talk on psychiatry in the emergency department, including the recent changes to the Western Australian Mental Health Act.

General Psychiatry Resources:

Psych Shelf Picture

Assessment of Capacity:

  • Capacity Definition:
    • Mental capacity can be defined as having ‘sufficient understanding and memory to comprehend in a general way the situation in which one finds oneself and the nature, purpose, and consequence of any act or transaction into which one proposes to enter’ ( – in other words, as the ability to make a decision.
  • Capacity assessment principles:
    • A person has decision making capacity to make a specific decision if (at the relevant time) they have the capacity to do ALL :
      • Understand any information about the decision
      • Understand the matters involved in the decision
      • Understand the effect of the decision
      • Weigh up the above factors for the purpose of making the decision
      • Communicate the decision in some way.
      • No Coercion
    • Assess the person’s decision-making ability – not the decision they make

Referral for Psychiatric Examination:

  • Form 1A (MHA 2014)
  • A practitioner can only refer a person for examination by a psychiatrist where they reasonably suspect that:
    • the person is in need of an involuntary treatment order (see below), or
    • if the person is currently on a community treatment order, the person is in need of an inpatient treatment order.
    • The assessing practitioner must have regard to the criteria for an involuntary treatment order
Dr James Wheeler
Dr James Wheeler

Emergency Physician, SCGH, WA, Australia

Articles: 500

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