Should Determination of Treatment of a Mentally Ill Person Be a Matter of Medical or Legal Judgement ?

In In re Gail F., 365 Ill. App. 3d 439, 446, 849 N.E.2d 448, 302 Ill. Dec. 656 (2006) the State petitioned for the administration of 12 medications. The treating psychiatrist offered testimony regarding only 10 of those medications. The court, however, authorized the administration of all 12 medications. On appeal, both parties agreed that this was error. The State, however, argued that the lack of evidence affected only the approval of the 2 medications and that the order could be modified to authorize the 10 medications that were supported by testimony. The Court rejected that argument. The lack of evidence on all petitioned-for medications was fatal to the entire petition. See Gail F., 365 Ill. App. 3d at 447. The Court reasoned that a modification of the treatment plan embodied in the petition must be a matter of medical judgment, not legal: "'As this court has recognized, the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders is a "'highly specialized area of medicine which is better left to the experts.'" Indeed, section 2-107.1 vests the physician authorized to administer the involuntary treatment "complete discretion" not to administer the treatment. It is thus not for the trial court or the jury to "develop a course of treatment and then dictate that course to the treating physician. That would constitute role reversal." In the words of amici curiae, allowing the layperson jury to determine which of the various medications should be involuntarily administered "dangerously approaches the practice of medicine."' Gail F., 365 Ill. App. 3d at 447, quoting In re Mary Ann P., 202 Ill. 2d 393, 406, 781 N.E.2d 237, 269 Ill. Dec. 440 (2002).