Sleepwalking - Medical/Legal Issues

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Medical/Legal Issues

There are definite legal and medical implications for a criminal offence committed during a sleepwalking episode, as the offender is not held responsible for the act.

Sleepwalking is a peculiar, distressing, and potentially dangerous sleep behavior. However, there are definite medical and legal implications for a criminal offense committed during a Sleepwalking phase, as the offender is not held responsible for the act.

Medical Issues and Legal Issues

► Sleepwalking can adversely affect another sleep condition such as obstructive sleep apnea by interfering with nasal continuous positive-pressure therapy .

► Sleepwalkers are often misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated as psychiatric disorders.

► Such cases must be evaluated by professional sleep specialists.

► They may also have forensic implications. Accidents, homicides, and suicides may occur during these bizarre nocturnal experiences

► Failing to advise patients and/or their caretakers about the risks of injury to self or others could be construed as punishable, depending on the extent of the damage sustained.

► Failure to look for an underlying cause for sleepwalking, especially when the onset is in adulthood, also could be punishable.

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