Mental patients sprinkled throughout the nation's psychiatric
hospitals are being locked up alone for years despite laws aimed at
preventing the practice, because medical workers say they're too
dangerous to handle any other way.
Health officials call them outliers _ rare, unpredictably violent
people who don't respond to medication or other treatment. Advocates
call them victims of a system that has lost patience and creativity in
caring for those who are most difficult to treat....
The laws and court rulings don't cap the consecutive days a patient can
be isolated or restrained, though, so hospitals can hold a patient
indefinitely by simply signing off on it every 24 hours....