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Is it illegal if a front-line direct care worker in a psychiatric hospital denies patients' requests for food and/or snacks?

Philadelphia, PA |

In between meals and on the overnight hours is it illegal to deny patients' requests for hydration & nutrition in locked psychiatric units where patients are generally involuntarily committed against their will?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Not necessarily.

    The obligations to confined patients will depend on the facts and circumstances.

    Psychiatric confinement or lock-down is not akin to hotel room service on demand, but there are constitutional implications if patients are denied necessary food and drink. In most circumstances, licensed facilities have standard protocols for distribution of food and drink that meet constitutionally measures.

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  2. A request is one thing. A medical need is another.

    The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.