Can You Visit Someone on a 72-Hour Hold? An In-depth Analysis

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on July 3, 2023
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Navigating the world of mental health can be daunting, especially when a loved one is involved.

One situation that often raises questions is the 72-hour hold – what it is, why it’s necessary, and if you can visit someone undergoing it.

The Online Mental Health Reviews team’s thorough research, extensive background, and experience in mental health, including work in residential centers and therapy, help us provide accurate and insightful content.

Generally speaking, the answer is no, you cannot visit. However, you can most likely communicate with someone during a 72-hour hold if they have their mobile device and want to speak with you.

Let’s unpack this.

What is a 72-Hour Hold?

A 72-hour hold, also known as an involuntary psychiatric hold or a “5150,” is a legal action typically invoked when an individual poses a threat of serious bodily harm to themselves or others due to a mental health disorder. This hold aims to evaluate the individual’s mental health condition and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

  1. What It Is: A 72-hour hold, or involuntary psychiatric hospitalization, is a legal action usually initiated by a medical professional or law enforcement officer under the belief that the individual poses a significant risk to themselves or others due to a mental health disorder.
  2. Purpose: It provides immediate treatment and stabilization for individuals in a severe mental health crisis, often with a risk of harm to themselves or others.
  3. Process: The individual is taken to a mental health facility or a designated department within a hospital, where they are evaluated and treated by mental health professionals.
  4. Visitation Rights: Visiting rights can vary depending on the facility’s policy and the patient’s condition. Some facilities may allow visitors during specific hours, while others may restrict visitation to protect the patient’s privacy and provide a calm environment for recovery.
  5. After the Hold: Once the 72-hour hold is completed, the individual is re-evaluated. Depending on their condition, they may be discharged, voluntarily admitted for further treatment, or in some cases, involuntarily committed if they still pose a risk.

Why is Inpatient Mental Health Treatment Done?

  1. Immediate Care: Inpatient mental health treatment provides immediate care to individuals in a crisis due to mental health disorders.
  2. Safety Measures: It ensures the individual’s and others’ safety by providing a controlled environment where the person can be monitored and treated effectively.
  3. Intensive Treatment: Inpatient treatment allows for intensive, round-the-clock care, including medication management, therapy sessions, and other treatments as necessary.
  4. Stabilization: It aims to stabilize the individual’s mental state and mitigate any immediate risks associated with their mental health disorder.
  5. Transition to Outpatient Care: The ultimate goal of inpatient treatment is to stabilize the individual to a point where they can transition to outpatient care, which may include therapy sessions, support groups, and medication management.
  6. Severe Mental Health Crises: Inpatient treatment is often used for individuals experiencing severe mental health crises that pose a significant risk to themselves or others.
  7. Treatment of Complex Conditions: Complex mental health conditions, such as severe depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other disorders that significantly impair a person’s daily functioning, may require inpatient treatment.

Understanding the Basis for a 72-Hour Hold

Over 50 years of meta-analysis research into interventions for self-harm indicate “many interventions produce small reductions in SITBs and that these effects endure across a range of sample and study characteristics.”

  1. Crisis Intervention: It’s used when someone poses an immediate danger to themselves or others. Must be authorized by the healthcare authority. An individual cannot initiate a 5150.
  2. Psychiatric Evaluation: The hold allows health professionals to assess the individual’s mental state.
  3. Treatment Initiation: It provides a window to begin appropriate treatment.

Why You Might Not Be Allowed to Visit

Visiting someone during a 72-hour hold isn’t always possible. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Privacy and Confidentiality: Mental health institutions must uphold patient and representative privacy rights. Visitation might infringe on these rights, especially if the person held doesn’t want visitors.

2. Safety Concerns: If a person is deemed a danger to themselves or others, allowing visitors might exacerbate the situation and potentially put the life-threatening danger visitor at risk.

3. Medical Reasons: The initial 72 hours are critical for assessment by the treatment team and stabilization. Interruptions might hinder this process.

When Visitation May Be Permitted

Despite the aforementioned constraints, there are circumstances where visitation is allowed:

  • Legal Permission: A visit might be permitted if the person under the hold consents to a visit and the medical team believes it won’t disrupt the treatment process.
  • Exceptional Circumstances: In some cases, such as when the person held is a minor or has a severe condition, family members might be allowed to visit.

It’s crucial to check with the specific institution or consult a mental health professional to understand the applicable rules, procedures, and costs associated with a 5150 hold.

Again, visiting in person is different than a simple phone call. If the person in the 5150 has their mobile device, they can make outbound calls.

Duration of a Hold

Let’s understand the duration of such a hold.

  1. 72-Hour Hold: Typically, an involuntary hold lasts for 72 hours. The individual is kept under observation and provided necessary treatment during this period.
  2. Extended Hold: In certain cases, if the individual poses a significant risk to themselves or others, the hold can be extended beyond 72 hours for further evaluation and treatment. The longer the hold, the higher the costs of the 72 hour hold.
  3. Court-Ordered Holds: If mental health professionals determine that more extended care is needed, they may seek a court order to extend the hold. The duration of court-ordered holds varies depending on local laws and the individual’s condition.
  4. Voluntary Admission: After the initial 72-hour hold, the individual can voluntarily choose to stay for further treatment. The duration of the voluntary stay depends on the treatment plan developed by mental health professionals.
  5. Discharge: If the individual no longer poses a risk to themselves or others, they may be discharged after the 72-hour hold.

Please remember the specifics of each hold can vary based on local laws and the individual’s unique situation.

the Timeline of a 72-Hour Hold

Who Pays for a 72-Hour Hold?

To answer this, let’s first understand the timeline of a 72-hour hold.

  1. Initiation: The 72-hour hold begins when a medical professional or law enforcement officer believes the individual poses a significant risk to themselves or others due to a mental health disorder.
  2. Evaluation: Upon arrival at the mental health facility, the individual undergoes a comprehensive evaluation by mental health professionals.
  3. Treatment: Throughout the 72 hours, the individual receives necessary treatment and care, including medication management and therapeutic interventions.
  4. Reevaluation: At the end of the 72 hours, the individual is reevaluated to determine the next steps.
  5. Discharge or Extension: If the individual no longer poses a risk, they may be discharged. However, if they still pose a significant risk, the hold can be extended for further treatment.

Visiting rights during a 72-hour hold can vary based on the facility’s policy and the individual’s condition. Always consult with the healthcare provider or facility for accurate information.

What Happens During a 72-Hour Hold?

But what exactly happens during a 72-hour hold? Let’s delve into it.

  1. Evaluation: Upon admission, a mental health professional evaluates the individual’s mental state to determine the severity of their condition and the risk they pose to themselves or others.
  2. Immediate Care: The individual receives immediate care tailored to their needs, which may include medication and therapeutic interventions.
  3. Observation and Monitoring: During the hold, healthcare professionals closely monitor the individual’s behavior, symptoms, and response to treatment.
  4. Reevaluation: At the end of the 72 hours, the individual’s condition is reevaluated. If they no longer pose a significant risk, they may be discharged.
  5. Further Steps: If the individual still poses a significant risk, further steps may be taken, such as extending the hold or seeking a court order for a longer-term involuntary commitment.

What Happens if the Patient Still Needs Treatment After a 72-Hour Hold?

  1. Extension of Hold: If the mental health professional determines that the individual still poses a significant risk to themselves or others, the hold may be extended for further observation and treatment.
  2. Voluntary Admission: If the individual agrees to continue treatment voluntarily, they may remain at the facility for further care.
  3. Involuntary Commitment: In some cases, if the individual is still a significant risk but refuses voluntary treatment, there may be legal proceedings for longer-term involuntary commitment.
  4. Outpatient Care: If the individual no longer requires intensive inpatient care but still needs treatment, they may be discharged with a comprehensive outpatient treatment plan. This could include medication management, therapy sessions, and regular check-ins with healthcare providers.
  5. Support Services: The individual might also be connected with community resources and support services, such as support groups, to aid their recovery.

The Next Step after a 72-Hour Hold

  1. Reevaluation: At the end of the 72-hour hold, the individual is reevaluated by mental health professionals. They assess whether the person still poses a significant risk to themselves or others.
  2. Discharge: If the individual no longer poses a risk, they may be discharged. This could involve developing a treatment plan for them to follow outside the facility.
  3. Voluntary Admission: If further treatment is needed but the individual does not pose an immediate risk, they may voluntarily stay at the facility for continued care.
  4. Involuntary Commitment: If the individual is still deemed a significant risk, the mental health professionals may seek to extend the hold or initiate a court hearing for a longer-term commitment.
  5. Probable Cause Hearing: If a longer-term involuntary commitment is being considered, a legal proceeding known as a Probable Cause Hearing may be held to determine whether there is enough evidence (probable cause) to justify further involuntary treatment.
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  1. Initiation: The 72-hour hold begins when a medical professional or law enforcement officer believes the individual poses a significant risk to themselves or others due to a mental health disorder. This requires a written declaration detailing the reasons for the hold.
  2. Evaluation: Once the individual is at the mental health facility, a mental health professional conducts an assessment to confirm if the person requires further treatment and supervision.
  3. Treatment: During the hold, the individual receives necessary treatment, which may include medication, counseling, or other types of therapy.
  4. Reevaluation: The individual is reevaluated at the end of the 72 hours. If they no longer pose a threat to themselves or others, they may be discharged. However, further steps may be taken if they pose a significant risk.
  5. Extension or Court Hearing: If the mental health professionals believe the individual still poses a significant risk, they may seek to extend the hold or initiate a court hearing for a longer-term commitment.

The Implications of a Hold

  1. Immediate Care: One of the primary implications of a 72-hour hold is that the individual receives immediate mental health care, which may include medication management and therapeutic interventions.
  2. Safety: The hold ensures the safety of the individual and others, as it is typically initiated when the person poses a significant risk to themselves or others due to a mental health disorder.
  3. Legal Proceedings: A 72-hour hold can lead to legal proceedings if longer-term involuntary commitment is necessary. This could involve a probable cause hearing or a certification review hearing.
  4. Rights and Privacy: The individual’s rights and privacy are affected during a hold. They have the right to legal representation and certain privacy rights, but their freedom of movement is restricted.
  5. Aftercare: The hold’s implications extend beyond the initial 72 hours. Depending on the outcome, aftercare might be needed, including therapy and medication management.

Remember, every situation is unique, and the specifics can vary based on local laws and the individual’s condition. Always consult with healthcare providers or facility staff for accurate information.

A Brief History of Psychiatric Holds

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  1. Early Legislation: The initial laws were implemented to protect society from individuals deemed ‘mad’.
  2. Deinstitutionalization Era: Shifted focus to community-based treatment and protecting patient rights.
  3. Modern Laws: Current legislation, like California’s 5150 law, balances patient rights and societal safety.

This is a simplified timeline, and laws can vary. Always consult with a mental health professional or legal expert for specific advice.

Tracing the Evolution of Mental Health Laws

  1. Early Asylums: Initially, ‘madhouses’ were used for containment, not treatment.
  2. Reform Movements: Advocacy led to improved conditions and treatment approaches.
  3. Modern Legislation: Current laws aim to balance patient rights with societal safety.

This is a simplified overview, and laws vary by location. Consult with a legal expert or mental health professional for specific advice.

What is law AB 1194?

In mental health care, different laws that govern practices like a 72-hour hold come into play. One such significant law is AB 1194.

This article will explain what this law entails.

  1. Patient Rights: The law ensures patients’ rights to access their mental health information.
  2. Communication Facilitation: It facilitates better communication between healthcare providers and family members.
  3. Safety Measures: The law includes provisions to protect both the patient and the public.

This is a simplified explanation, and the specifics of the law can vary.

What is a Certification Review Hearing?

  1. Definition: A Certification Review Hearing is a legal procedure held if there’s a need for a longer-term involuntary commitment after a 72-hour hold. It is designed to review the certification of involuntary treatment.
  2. Participants: The hearing typically involves the individual, their attorney, a representative from the mental health facility, and occasionally family members or other witnesses.
  3. Procedure: During the hearing, evidence is presented by both sides – the mental health facility presents reasons for the necessity of extended involuntary treatment, while the individual’s side can argue against it.
  4. Outcome: Based on the evidence presented, the judge will decide whether to uphold the certification for further involuntary treatment or rescind it.
  5. Individual Rights: Individuals have certain rights during these hearings, including the right to legal representation, the right to present their evidence, and the right to cross-examine witnesses.

Remember, each situation is unique, and the specifics may vary based on local laws and the individual’s condition. Always consult with the healthcare provider or facility for accurate information.

Navigating Communication and Support

A Comprehensive Guide to the 5150 Hold: What You Need to Know

It can be stressful and confusing when a loved one is placed on a 72-hour hold, also known as involuntary psychiatric hospitalization.

You might wonder how to navigate communication and support during this difficult period, including whether you can visit them. Let’s discuss some key points to consider.

  1. Understanding Hospital Policies: Each hospital has its visiting hours and procedures policies. It’s important to contact the facility and inquire about their specific guidelines.
  2. Respecting Privacy: While it’s natural to want to provide support, remember that the individual’s privacy is paramount. Healthcare professionals must follow strict confidentiality laws.
  3. Communication with Healthcare Team: With the patient’s permission, you may communicate with the healthcare team. They can provide general information about the patient’s progress and ways you can offer support.
  4. Emotional Support: Sending messages of love, encouragement, and support can be beneficial. Even if you can’t visit in person, a phone call or letter can make a difference.
  5. Planning for Discharge: Start thinking about how you can support the individual post-discharge. This could involve helping them follow treatment plans, providing transportation to appointments, or being there for emotional support.

Why Can’t I Send and Receive Information About My Loved One?

When a loved one is placed on a 72-hour hold, it’s natural to want to stay informed about their condition and provide support.

However, there might be instances where you cannot send or receive information about your loved one. Let’s explore why that might be the case.

  1. Confidentiality Laws: In the United States, healthcare providers are bound by strict confidentiality laws, such as HIPAA. These laws protect patient privacy and limit what information can be shared without explicit consent from the patient.
  2. Patient Consent: If patients don’t permit their medical information to be shared with them, healthcare providers must respect their wishes. This can be frustrating, but respecting the patient’s autonomy is important.
  3. Hospital Policies: Each hospital has its policies regarding the communication of patient information. These policies may further restrict what information can be shared, even with immediate family members.
  4. Treatment Considerations: There may be therapeutic reasons for limiting communication. For example, a healthcare provider may believe certain information could interfere with the patient’s treatment or recovery.
  5. Emergency Situations: Information may only be shared with a legally designated representative in emergencies or when the patient cannot consent.

Privacy Laws and Their Impact on Communication

When a loved one is placed on a 72-hour hold, it’s only natural to want to stay informed and involved. However, privacy laws can impact the communication flow during this critical time.

Understanding these laws can help manage expectations and navigate the process more smoothly.

  1. Confidentiality Protection: Privacy laws, such as HIPAA in the United States, protect patient information. These laws restrict healthcare providers from sharing certain information without the patient’s consent.
  2. Limited Information Sharing: Even immediate family members may not have access to detailed information about the patient’s condition or treatment without the patient’s consent.
  3. Patient Autonomy: Privacy laws respect and protect patient autonomy. This means the patient can decide who can receive their health information.
  4. Emergency Exceptions: In certain emergencies, healthcare providers may share information with family members without the patient’s consent. However, they will generally only share information directly related to the emergency.
  5. Role of Legal Representatives: For patients unable to make their own medical decisions, a legally designated representative (like a power of attorney) may have the right to receive information and make decisions on their behalf.

How Do I Share Information About My Loved One?

Understanding 5150 Holds: A Comprehensive Guide

You may have important information about your loved one’s mental health to share with their healthcare providers. Here’s how you can navigate this process.

  1. Respect Privacy Laws: Understand that privacy laws like HIPAA in the US protect your loved one’s confidentiality. While these laws restrict what healthcare providers can share with you, they don’t prevent you from sharing information with them.
  2. Direct Communication: Reach out to your loved one’s healthcare team directly. You can share your observations, concerns, or relevant information that might aid their treatment.
  3. Written Documentation: It might be helpful to provide written documentation of your loved one’s symptoms or behavior changes. This could include specific incidents, dates, and patterns you’ve noticed.
  4. Participate in Family Meetings: If the hospital arranges family meetings or conferences, participate actively. These meetings are often an opportunity for family members to share information and ask questions.
  5. Patient Consent: If your loved one is willing and able to consent, they can allow the healthcare team to discuss their condition and treatment with you. This can facilitate more open communication.

Remember, each situation is unique, and the specifics may vary based on local laws and the individual’s condition. Always consult with a healthcare provider for accurate information.

Tips for Effective Communication with Healthcare Providers

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  1. Be Prepared: Write down any questions or concerns before speaking with the healthcare team. This will ensure you don’t forget to ask anything important.
  2. Provide Detailed Information: The more information the healthcare team has about your loved one’s mental health history, symptoms, and behavior, the better they can tailor the treatment plan.
  3. Listen Actively: When healthcare providers give information, listen carefully. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if something is unclear.
  4. Respect Boundaries: Understand that there may be details about your loved one’s status or treatment that healthcare providers cannot share due to privacy laws.
  5. Stay Calm and Patient: It’s a stressful time, but try to stay calm and patient during conversations. This can facilitate better communication and understanding.

To Get the Support You Need

When navigating the complexities of a 72-hour hold for a loved one, it’s crucial to ensure you’re also taking care of your own emotional and mental well-being.

Here are some steps to get the support you need during this challenging time.

  1. Reach Out: Connect with friends or family members who can provide emotional support. Don’t hesitate to share your feelings and concerns.
  2. Join Support Groups: Find local or online support groups for families of individuals dealing with mental health crises. These groups can provide a safe space to share experiences and gain insights.
  3. Seek Professional Help: Consider seeking help from a mental health professional. They can provide coping strategies and tools to deal with stress and anxiety.
  4. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care. Ensure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that help you relax and recharge, such as yoga online.
  5. Educate Yourself: Learn about your loved one’s condition and treatment options. This can help you better understand what they’re going through and how you can support them.

Remember, each situation is unique, and the specifics may vary based on local laws and the individual’s condition. Always consult with a healthcare provider for accurate information.

Conclusion: Navigating a 72-Hour Hold

Dealing with a 72-hour hold can be a challenging experience. It’s vital to remember that this measure is taken to ensure the safety and proper care of the individual involved. While you may not always be able to visit, there are other ways to offer support, such as sending encouraging messages or coordinating with their healthcare team.

Remember, every situation is unique. Always consult with professionals and respect the rules of the healthcare institution. Your understanding and patience can significantly impact your loved one’s journey toward better mental health.

Remember, if you need to reach a lawyer or expert for urgent questions, Just Answer’s $5 trial is a reasonable option. Our team has bought and reviewed Just Answer, and we believe this service could be helpful when navigating the complexities of the healthcare industry.

Our team hopes this information was helpful. If you have any questions about the challenging of a 72 hour hold, 72 hour hold laws, involuntary commitment, visiting privileges, cost of a 72-hour hold with insurance, or without insurance, or who pays for a 72-hour, feel free to leave a comment below.

We’d also love your suggestions on what mental health software product Online Mental Health Reviews should evaluate next. Your input is highly appreciated!

If You’re In An Emergency

If you’re experiencing a crisis, it’s crucial not to delay seeking help while waiting for an online therapy session. If immediate assistance is needed, dial 911. This applies especially if there are intentions to harm yourself or others. For thoughts of self-harm, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available around the clock when you dial 988.

Furthermore, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). This toll-free, confidential service provides individuals struggling with mental or substance abuse disorders access to treatment information and referrals, available 24/7, every day of the year.

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