Baker Act initiation

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Every day someone who lives in Florida or a visitor is taken for involuntary psychiatric examination. Baker Act initiations occur so the POSSIBILITY of an adverse outcome is avoided. A Baker Act initiation often is only to avoid liability by police officers, or emergency room physicians, or mental health professionals. Many Baker Act initiations are completed on people because it is thought a person is in need of treatment instead of him/her meeting the legal requirement of mental illness that causes dangerousness. The Baker Act is overused and is big business for hospitals.

Once a Baker Act examination is initiated, that person (now patient) is deprived of civil liberties, often given incorrect information, and will probably be held involuntarily for some unnecessary length of time. (S)he will be asked to be a voluntary patient. The statutes (Florida Statutes Chapter 394, Part I,) require this opportunity to be a voluntary patient. Not only to meet the statutory requirement, the request is frequently made more than once because having a voluntary patient is easier for the hospital. (No court hearing is required for a voluntary patient). The patient has valuables taken and may have had firearms or weapons confiscated and held by law enforcement instead of the hospital. (S)he may have to endure post-discharge hardship to get these firearms or weapons returned, and/or be concerned about lost time at work or school. Family/significant others have limited contact. All of this because of an unfair Baker Act examination was initiated.

Many attorneys are asked to help. Lawyers are confronted with clients or friends/significant others of clients asking about either discharge or complaining. Also, questions are asked about expunging records and about return of firearms. Lawyers should get involved to help clients do something about the unjustness.

It often helps to conceptualize Baker Acts as a two-step process. There is involuntary examination, and, after this examination, a patient must be discharged, be voluntary, or the hospital must FILE a petition to obtain permission for involuntary placement with the court. This action leads to possible involuntary hospitalization for treatment for a longer period if the court grants permission after the hospital submits a petition.

Every day someone who lives in Florida or a visitor is taken for involuntary psychiatric examination. Baker Act initiations occur so the POSSIBILITY of an adverse outcome is avoided. A Baker Act initiation often is only to avoid liability by police officers, or emergency room physicians, or mental health professionals. Many Baker Act initiations are completed on people because it is thought a person is in need of treatment instead of him/her meeting the legal requirement of mental illness that causes dangerousness. The Baker Act is overused and is big business for hospitals.

Once a Baker Act examination is initiated, that person (now patient) is deprived of civil liberties, often given incorrect information, and will probably be held involuntarily for some unnecessary length of time. (S)he will be asked to be a voluntary patient. The statutes (Florida Statutes Chapter 394, Part I,) require this opportunity to be a voluntary patient. Not only to meet the statutory requirement, the request is frequently made more than once because having a voluntary patient is easier for the hospital. (No court hearing is required for a voluntary patient). The patient has valuables taken and may have had firearms or weapons confiscated and held by law enforcement instead of the hospital. (S)he may have to endure post-discharge hardship to get these firearms or weapons returned, and/or be concerned about lost time at work or school. Family/significant others have limited contact. All of this because of an unfair Baker Act examination was initiated.

Many attorneys are asked to help. Lawyers are confronted with clients or friends/significant others of clients asking about either discharge or complaining. Also, questions are asked about expunging records and about return of firearms. Lawyers should get involved to help clients do something about the unjustness.

It often helps to conceptualize Baker Acts as a two-step process. There is involuntary examination, and, after this examination, a patient must be discharged, be voluntary, or the hospital must FILE a petition to obtain permission for involuntary placement with the court. This action leads to possible involuntary hospitalization for treatment for a longer period if the court grants permission after the hospital submits a petition.

 


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