Recently on our disability forum a user asked, If I have been admitted to the hospital after a mental health crisis what are my rights? For example, can the hospital decide to hold me against my will?
All states have laws regarding the rights of patients who have been admitted to hospitals for mental health services. In the state of Texas you can contact the Health Facility Licensure and Certification Division of the Texas Department of State Health Services at 1-888-973-0022 if you have specific questions about your case.
What rights do I have after a mental health crisis?
Currently, under state laws, if a patient has a mental health crisis and is admitted to a mental facility the mental health patient should be given a copy of their rights, they should have their rights explained to them within 24 hours of their admittance, and they should understand their rights to make a complaint. Additionally, patients who do not believe they have been adequately represented by their lawyer after they have been involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility also have the right to request a hearing before a judge.
Voluntary admittance and patient rights after a mental health crisis
If you have voluntarily committed yourself to the hospital you generally have the right leave the hospital at any time (unless specific conditions are met). In fact, the discharge must occur within four hours from the time the request is made. Although minors under the age of 16 may be limited from leaving by those who admitted them, other persons must be allowed to leave unless medical personnel believes they are likely to cause injury to themselves or others or their condition is likely to deteriorate and the doctor does not believe the patient is able to make informed decisions about their care and whether or not they need treatment.
If the doctor determines the patients mental health crisis meets one of the exceptions outlined above they must conduct a medical examination within 24 hours. If they still believe the condition meets the criteria outlined above they must request a court order from a judge to hold the patient against their will at the facility.
The judge will review the request and determine if the patient does, in fact, meet the conditions outline above (i.e., likely to cause injury or harm to themselves or others or their condition is likely to deteriorate and they cannot make an informed decision to stay).
Note, it is a crime under Texas laws to intentionally cause or help another person to illegally commit a person to a mental health facility.
Involuntary commitment to a mental health facility after a mental health crisis
Unfortunately, individuals do have mental health crisis and are not always able to make sound decisions about their medical needs. The state does allow individuals to be committed under very specific conditions. Individuals who are involuntarily committed for a mental crisis, however, must be told where they are, why they are being held, and that a judge may be allowed to hold them against their will. Patients also have the right to contact a doctor for an evaluation and talk to their lawyer.
The examination and decision for their involuntary commitment must be made within 24 hours (excepting weekends and holidays). If the doctor believes their condition meets the legal requirements to be held, they may request a hearing, and it must be held within 72 hours (excepting weekends and holidays).
If you have had a mental health crisis you have the right to certain protections under the law. Under certain conditions, however, patients can be held against their will.
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