Patients who wish to leave or abscond from the general hospital

  • A patient may be prevented from leaving and be restrained to receive treatment under a duty of care and the common law doctrine of necessity.
  • The use of common law powers should only be a last option and where there is no alternative course of action available, such as detention under The Act to prevent immediate danger of death or bodily harm.
  • Medical staff should record their action in the patient record and complete a safeguard incident report.
  • After the immediate use of common law the staff should consider the use of The Act and/or the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. Discussion with the Mental Health service may be helpful either through MHAATS/Liaison or from the duty doctor for Psychiatry.
  • If a patient absconds from hospital, the Missing Persons Policy (NHS Forth Valley) should be followed.
  • If a patient has been seen that day by any fully registered and licensed medical practitioner, for example the specialist trainee or FY2 then that doctor can issue an EDC without Mental Health Officer consent.
  • They should then inform the appropriate AMP, MHO and Police of the detention.
  • Police will then consider the patient a missing person and to effect his or her return to the Hospital under the power of the EDC.

Pathway for detention of patients who wish to leave general hospital.

Editorial Information

Last reviewed: 28/05/2021

Author(s): Julia Ferrari, Joe McGhee, Duncan Westall, William McFadden, Heather Tainsh , Susan Sutherland, Marie White , Anne Cook, Justin McNicholl, Douglas Armstrong, Dr Nabila Muzaffar, Dr Stuart Affleck, Dr David Cumming, Andrew Angus, Jackie Maher, Rose Mills, Vincent Hughes..