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MENTAL-PATIENT TRANSFERS MAY CONTINUE, COURT RULES

The state may continue to transfer mental patients from hospitals to long-term psychiatric wards over their objections, the state Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Thursday.

Saying there are enough safeguards in the current system to protect a patient's rights, Judge Vito J. Titone wrote, "We cannot ignore the fact that the decision to transfer reflects primarily a medical judgment." It ruled 7-0 against advocates for the mentally ill who had challenged the state's policy of allowing involuntary transfers as being made not for patients' health, but because hospitals in New York City are overcrowded.

Dennis Feld, an attorney for the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, said the service was worried that transfer decisions were being made arbitrarily.

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