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Attention doctorportal newsletter subscribers,

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As of January 2019, we will no longer be sending out the doctorportal email newsletter. The final issue of this newsletter will be distributed on 13 December 2018. Articles from this issue will be available to view online until 31 December 2018.

[Editorial] When a hospital becomes a prison

Imprisonment for debt has a long history. In England during the 18th and 19th centuries, for instance, thousands of people were detained in debtors’ prisons for failure to pay debts. Although such institutions no longer exist, in many parts of the world detention for unpaid debts is still a well known occurrence. Less recognised, however, is hospital detention—the practice of holding people in hospital against their will, not because their condition requires it, but because they have outstanding health-care bills.