Forensic Psychiatry in the largest security ward in Portugal

  • Teresa Carvalhão Psychiatry Department, Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
  • Patricia Jorge Centro Hospitalar do Médio Tejo
  • Paula Batalim Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra


Forensic Psychiatry is defined as the Psychiatry subspecialty in which the clinical and scientific knowledge is applied to legal aspects, both with regard to Civil and Criminal Law. Nowadays, the largest security ward is in Coimbra, at the University Hospital. It covers 110 patients, 90 males and 20 females. The aim of the security measure, in accordance with the penal code, is the protection of legal assets and the psychosocial rehabilitation. In our sample, the main most frequent diagnosis was schizophrenia (37.8%). Moderate intellectual disability (23.4%) and mild intellectual disability (14.4%) were the second and third most frequent diagnosis. The unlawful acts that generated the prevalent security measure were in first place domestic violence (19,8%) followed by attempted murder (16,2%) and theft (14,5%). The elaboration of a therapeutic and rehabilitation plan is essential and its aim is to diminish the person’s dangerousness. It is fundamental to think of the safety ward as a health production space and not as a place of mere disease management or “dangerous states”, thus trying to solve the patient’s problems.


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