The Beijing Municipal People's Congress is discussing a draft regulation that says that those who divulge the identity of mental patients can be fined up to 30,000 yuan (US$3,750).
The draft of the Beijing Mental Health Regulation also said those who force mental patients to take new drugs without approval will be held criminally responsible and those who illegally restrict the freedom of mental patients will be held civilly responsible.
Public hospitals are not likely to force mental patients to experiment with new drugs, said Luo Xiaonian, director of the Psychiatry Department of Beijing Anding Hospital.
He also said protecting a mental patient's privacy follows basic professional ethics for a psychologist.
The draft regulation said patients are allowed to voluntarily experience new drugs. Drug developers must inform volunteers of the details and risks of the clinical experiments and sign an agreement with patients or their agents.
If the person is not competent to agree to a new clinical drug test, his or her guardians must give their prior consent and an agreement must be signed between the guardians and the drug developers. Developers of new drugs should pay those who attend clinical experiments.
According to the draft regulation, doctors are entitled to recommend that patients with severe mental problems be hospitalized. But if guardians or family relatives of the patients refuse hospitalization, doctors may not force patients to stay in hospital nor restrict their freedom.
Shen Teng, a lawyer from a Beijing-based law office cited by the Legal Evening newspaper, said hospitals have a duty to prevent patients from doing harm or being harmed when in hospital.
Statistics show there are 130,000 registered patients in Beijing with severe mental problems. China now has 16 million mental patients.
Source: China Daily