Bret Bohn was a Alaskan field guide. (Source: family photo via

Man’s medical condition leads to indefinite detention, forced medication


A young man’s deteriorating health led the state of Alaska to assume full control of his medical care — against his own written will and the against the wishes of his family.  Since last October he has been trapped in a hospital, isolated without visitors, on an extensive series of psychotropic drugs, in a condition that continues to diminish.

Bret Byron Bohn is a native Alaskan who loves hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and most outdoor activities.  He lived an exemplary life receiving many awards as a youth, became a member of the National Honor Society, and achieved the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout.  He had recently graduated from a program in Aviation Technology.

At 26-years-old, Bohn worked as a field guide for hunters and outdoorsmen on expeditions in the Alaskan wilderness.   While otherwise healthy and athletic, his only medical issue was the development of some nasal polyps which impeded his ability to smell.  He had them surgically removed, but they grew back.  He was prescribed Prednisone — a powerful steroid and immune suppressant — to attempt to regain his sense of smell.

While on Predisone, he began suffering with the inability to sleep for a prolonged period.  After a week of insomnia, his family took him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.  They hadn’t realized it at the time, but one of the listed side effects of Prednisone is sleep disturbances (insomnia).

Rather than take him off of the drug that was likely causing the sleep problem, doctors prescribed two more powerful drugs to supposedly calm him down and help him sleep.  He was given Zolpidem (brand name Ambien) which treats insomnia, as well as Lorazepam (brand name Ativan) which treats anxiety, depression and insomnia.

After taking the prescribed combination of drugs at at home, Bohn had seizures — potentially because the drugs he took are known to cause seizures.  His family took him back to the hospital, looking for answers, and he was given more drugs, and had more seizures.  He was put into intensive care.

His hospitalization would be marked by periods of prolonged periods of sleep deprivation, apparently related to his medications.

Physical tests to this point had turned up no signs of what could be wrong with Bohn.  Over 35 lab tests failed to produce abnormal results.

Bohn remained unable to sleep for a total of 24 days.  His condition was severely diminished.  He was in a state of “delirium,” according to court records.  His family assumed power of attorney over Bret through a written agreement he had previously drawn up in 2007.

At one point the exhausted patient decided he had enough and removed himself from his IV, unplugged himself from his machines, and removed his catheter.  He wanted to leave.

Bohn was convinced to calm down with the help of his family, whom at first trusted the doctors’ course of action.  They began to object to when it was evident to them that the drug therapy was hurting Bret, not helping.   Soon they were pleading with doctors to take him off of the drugs in order to let him sleep.  At one point doctors briefly relented, and Bohn was finally able to sleep — for a time.

A notice with the court was filed regarding the “escape attempt.”  The hospital and social workers alleged that Mr. Bohn was delirious and a danger to himself, and that his parents were not suitable guardians.  On November 5th, 2013, Adult Protective Services filed for emergency guardianship over Bohn, and the court soon granted it.  His parents’ power of attorney was considered null and void.  His written will was overridden.

Doctors characterized his disgruntled, combative state — after weeks of insomnia — as a sign of mental illness, and that he was irrational and a threat to himself.  Hospital staff put him into a psychiatric ward, physically forcing his compliance.  They began administering psychiatric drugs, beginning with Haldol, which is used to treat schizophrenia.

No Diagnosis, No Rights

After the disputes between doctors and parents over his medication, Providence portrayed Bohn’s family as interfering with his treatment and a threat to his well-being.  They alleged that they were going to help him leave without being medically discharged, and that they did not have his best interests in mind in light of his supposedly life-threatening illness — which as of then remained undiagnosed.  They alleged that his mother, Lorraine Phillips, wanted to physically harm her son, Bret.

His ability to have visitors was reduced to once per week.  Phone calls were not allowed.  He was effectively a prisoner on the 5th floor of Providence, and doctors were free to medicate him with impunity.

His family was looked at with increased scrutiny during the sparse visitation sessions.   Whispering was not allowed between Bohn and his mother during their one weekly interaction.  The hospital monitored their visits and did not allow her to give him things like organic carrot juice, as if she might be trying to poison him.

The family’s pleas for a change in his medical plan, for a second opinion, for his release, or for his transfer to another hospital were all ignored.   With Bret Bohn now a ward of the state, they had no reason to listen or comply.

“Bret wants to go home,” his mother explained.  “Bret tells Providence he wants to go home, but Bret’s rights have been stripped from him and the doctors’ orders are Bret stays there at the hospital. They tell Bret everyday he is in a safe place and they tell Bret the doctors know whats best for him.”


Protesters demand Bret Bohn’s release outside Providence Alaska Medical Center. (Source: Facebook)


With Bohn in the full custody of the Office of Public Advocacy, psychiatric doctors ordered that Bohn have no further visitation by anyone, claiming that isolation was in his best interest.  His parents were cut off from their son, and were told that he may never be allowed to come home again.  They were threatened with arrest for trespassing if they came to the hospital.

The drugs that the hospital has forced on Bohn were too numerous for his mother to list in an interview — over 22 that she was aware of — and included Resperidone and Haloperiodol, among other powerful anti-psychotic drugs.

Bohn has been isolated from his family since December.  The last time he saw his father, Bret told him that he just wanted a breath of fresh air and a good night’s sleep.

It was not until January when Bohn was finally diagnosed with something: autoimmune encephalitis.  Supposedly, his immune system was attacking his brain.

Despite being told by doctors that their son could “die at any time,” the isolation was strictly enforced and family has been kept away from Bret.

“We don’t even know if they will tell us if he dies,” his mother tearfully explained, illustrating how far the hospital has removed the family from their son.

On January 12th, Bret Bohn turned 27 years old.  He spent it in isolation, as he does every day, drugged into a stupor, without friends or family allowed to visit.

A Plea For Help

The family is in sore need of support, prayers, and financial help.  Having no real options left, they are asking for their story to be shared and are supporting an Alaskan bill, H.B. 214, which would reform the standards under which a person may be held for psychiatric evaluation in the state.

The detention of Bret Bohn is an eye-opening look at how doctors and courts are capable of nullifying a person’s rights and freedom in the name of “doing what is best” for the patient.

The problem of forced institutionalization is not restricted to displaced minors like Justina Pelletier, as this case makes it clear to adults that they could easily be one hospital visit away from being involuntarily detained themselves.

This combination of ego and unchecked power is exacerbated by the fact that the federal government finances the indefinite hospitalization of patients like Mr. Bohn and has effectively created financial incentives that will produce more cases just like this one.

Bret’s only hope for release is loud and boisterous outrage from the public.   Contact information is listed below for those who are willing to speak out.

If this can happen to Bret Bohn, it can happen to anyone.

Read the Full Story at

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Demand Bret Bohn be released to his parents at once.

Providence Alaska Medical Center
3200 Providence Dr, Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 562-2211
Facebook:  Link

Governor Sean Parnell of Alaska
Phone: (907) 465-3500
Fax: (907) 465-3532
Send an email


Show support for Alaskan H.B. 214


Join supporters at the following page:  Free Bret Bohn | Facebook


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