Temporary treatment orders

Temporary treatment orders

A temporary treatment order is an order made by an authorised psychiatrist that enables a person to be given compulsory mental health treatment.

It lasts for a maximum of 28 days and may be either a community temporary treatment order or an inpatient temporary treatment order.

Making a temporary treatment order

An authorised psychiatrist must examine a person who is on an assessment order to determine if the criteria for compulsory treatment are met and if a temporary treatment order should be made.

This examination must occur as soon as practicable and before the assessment order expires. The authorised psychiatrist conducting the examination cannot be the same person who made the assessment order (s. 47).

The authorised psychiatrist can consider information communicated by people other than the person being assessed (s. 46(2)(b)).

If satisfied that all four of the treatment criteria are met, the authorised psychiatrist can make either a community temporary treatment, or an inpatient temporary treatment order (s. 46(1), s. 48(1)). This is discussed in more detail in Type and duration of orders.

If not all criteria are met, they must immediately revoke the person’s assessment order (s. 37(1)).

Once an order is made, the person must be given a copy and the order explained to them (s. 50(1)) and be given a copy of the statement of rights. The Mental Health Tribunal must also be notified (s. 50(2)).

Treatment criteria

Section 5 sets out the treatment criteria:

  1. the person has mental illness
  2. because the person has mental illness, the person needs immediate treatment to prevent:
    1. serious deterioration in the person's mental or physical health, or
    2. serious harm to the person or to another person.
  3. the immediate treatment will be provided to the person if the person is subject to a temporary treatment order (or treatment order – where considered by the Mental Health Tribunal), and
  4. there is no less restrictive means reasonably available to enable the person to receive the immediate treatment.

These criteria are discussed in more detail under Treatment criteria.

Type and duration of orders – community or inpatient order

The key difference between community and inpatient orders is that, while both enable a person to be given compulsory treatment, an inpatient order also enables a person to be taken to and detained in a designated mental health service in order to get that treatment (see s. 45).

Both types of orders last for a maximum of 28 days, during which time, the authorised psychiatrist must revoke the order if the treatment criteria no longer apply. The person then ceases to be a compulsory patient.

Unless the order is revoked, the Mental Health Tribunal will automatically schedule a hearing before the expiry of the 28-day period to determine if further compulsory treatment is justified (s. 53).

Factors to consider in making a temporary treatment order

The authorised psychiatrist must consider specific factors both when deciding whether the treatment criteria apply and which type of order to make – community or inpatient (s. 46(2)(a), s. 48(2)).

These factors include:

  • the person’s views and preferences about treatment (including those outlined in an advance statement if they have one)
  • their reasons and any recovery outcomes they want to achieve.

If a person has a nominated person or guardian their views must also be considered. The views of a carer must also be considered provided making the order will directly affect the carer and their care relationship with the person. A parent's views must also be considered if the person is under 16 years. To read more about the rights of carers, see Mental health principles.

An inpatient order can only be made if the authorised psychiatrist is satisfied the person cannot be treated in the community (s. 48(3)).

Practice tip

Check whether the person’s views and preferences about treatment and their recovery goals have been considered by the psychiatrist when deciding whether to make a temporary treatment order and whether it should be an inpatient or community order.

Validity of a temporary treatment orders

A temporary treatment order is not valid unless it complies with the mandatory requirements for the order (s. 361).

The mandatory requirements for a temporary treatment order are that it:

  1. specifies whether it is a community temporary treatment order or an inpatient temporary treatment order (s. 49(a))
  2. provides the date and time on which it was made (regulation 6(2)(a) of the Mental Health Regulations pursuant to s. 49(b))
  3. provides advice that the order has a duration of 28 days unless revoked at an earlier date (regulation 6(2)(b) pursuant to s. 49(b)).

General practice tips for temporary treatment orders

  • Only an authorised psychiatrist can make a temporary treatment order.
  • Check the time limits carefully. If an assessment order expires before a temporary treatment order is made, the person cannot be given compulsory treatment. A new assessment order would have to be made to restart the process.
  • Check the temporary treatment order carefully. The order will be invalid on its face if the authorised psychiatrist has not checked the box specifying whether it is community or inpatient or if the authorised psychiatrist has not provided the date and time.
  • A temporary treatment order is an initial order and can last for no more than 28 days.
  • A person subject to a temporary treatment order can, at any time, apply to the Mental Health Tribunal to have it revoked (s. 64).
  • The authorised psychiatrist must immediately revoke a person’s temporary treatment order if the criteria no longer apply (s. 61).
  • Voluntary treatment should be preferred. However, where an order is made, a community rather than an inpatient treatment order should be made wherever possible. This is consistent with the mental health principles at ss. 11(1)(a) and (b).
  • Even when a person is on a temporary treatment order, not all of their treatment will necessarily be given compulsorily. They may still be able to receive some of their treatment, or a particular medication, voluntarily.
  • An inpatient treatment order is sufficient authority for a person to be transported to hospital by people such as the police, ambulance or the CAT team. See Apprehension and transport to a designated mental health service.

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