The outpatient commitment of psychiatric patients has become increasingly widespread and controversial. It is also commonly
referred to as assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), such as Kendra's law in New York state. I have not seen reference to its
origins. One possibility is that it was first used at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., in April 1972. At that
time, the Area D Community Mental Health Center was on the grounds of the hospital under the directorship of Dr. Roger Peele.
One day over lunch, Dr. Peele and Dr. Armando Saenz, a ward psychiatrist, were trying to decide what to do with a patient
scheduled for discharge but who still needed supervision with her medication. Since she could legally be committed to inpatient
status, Drs. Peele and Saenz wondered why they could not commit her to outpatient care instead. They raised this option with
the Mental Health Commission, and the woman's lawyer, a respected public defender named Harry Fulton, agreed to it.