Who Can Authorize An Involuntary 72-Hour Hold: The Key Figures Who Can Intervene in a Crisis

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on July 5, 2023
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Involuntary 72-hour holds, also known as “5150” in certain jurisdictions, are critical tools used in the mental health field to ensure the safety of individuals in crisis.

The laws around a 5150 hold legally permit specific professionals to prevent an individual from leaving a medical treatment facility if they present a danger to themselves or others in the emergency room.

The Online Mental Health Reviews team’s extensive mental health background, including experience working at residential centers and being involved in dozens of 5150 calls, gives us a deep understanding of online mental health and enables us to provide reliable information on complex subjects such as involuntary holds.

This article analyzes the procedures and individuals authorized to enforce such a hold.

Who Can Authorize an Involuntary 72-Hour Hold?

  1. Medical Professionals: Doctors or law enforcement officers, particularly psychiatrists, can initiate a hold if they believe a patient is a threat to themselves or others based on a psychiatric evaluation. Their medical training and expertise in mental health conditions make them qualified to make this assessment.
  2. Law Enforcement Officers: Police officers can initiate a hold if they encounter someone who appears to be in severe mental distress and poses a risk during their duty. They are often the first line of response in public situations.
  3. Judges: In some jurisdictions, a judge can order a hold based on legal evidence that suggests an individual is a danger to themselves or others.
  4. Mental Health Officials: Certain mental health professionals, such as licensed therapists or social workers, can recommend a hold if their client presents immediate danger signs during therapy sessions.

Each of these professionals has a unique role in the process. Medical professionals and mental health officials often work directly with the individual before the crisis escalates to serious harm. At the same time, law enforcement and judges usually become involved when the situation has escalated to a public or legal concern with involuntary treatment.

For more detailed information on the specifics of the 5150 hold and the roles of these professionals, you can refer to resources like NAMI, Mayo Clinic, or local mental health department websites.

A Brief History of Psychiatric Holds

Navigating the world of mental health can be complex, especially when it comes to involuntary psychiatric holds.

Here’s a narrative review research paper that explores the history of involuntary commitments worldwide. Let’s dive into a brief history to understand better why these holds exist and who can authorize them in civil commitment.

A Brief History of Psychiatric Holds:

  1. Ancient Times: Mental illness was often attributed to supernatural forces, leading to isolation or punishment of the affected individuals.
  2. Middle Ages: Asylums were introduced but were more like prisons than treatment centers.
  3. 19th Century: Reform movements led to more humane treatments and the advent of psychiatric hospitals.
  4. 20th Century: Laws were enacted to protect patients’ rights, including the right to refuse treatment.
  5. Modern Day: Involuntary holds, such as the 72-hour hold, are used as a last resort for individuals posing a danger to themselves or others due to mental health crises.

What is an involuntary mental health commitment?

Involuntary mental health commitment can be a daunting topic. Let’s break it down into simple terms to understand what it entails and its role in mental illness and health care.

What is an Involuntary Mental Health Commitment?

  1. Definition: It’s a legal procedure for detaining individuals considered a risk to themselves or others due to a mental health crisis.
  2. Purpose: The goal is to provide immediate intervention and necessary care.
  3. Time Frame: Typically, it starts with a 72-hour hold for evaluation and can be extended based on assessment results.
  4. Authorization: Medical professionals, law enforcement officers, judges, and certain mental health officials can initiate this process. Individuals cannot 5150 themselves.

Remember, this measure is always about ensuring mental health nursing the safety and well-being of the person in crisis.

Imminency, physical harm, and danger are key terms in mental health commitments. Let’s decode these terms to understand their significance in the context of an involuntary 72-hour hold.

  1. Immanency refers to the immediate or near-immediate threat a person poses to themselves or others due to their mental state.
  2. Danger: In this context, danger refers to a serious risk of physical or psychological harm that could result from the person’s actions.
  3. Assessment: Medical professionals evaluate imminency and danger based on the person’s behavior, statements, or condition during a crisis.
  4. Outcome: If the threat is deemed imminent and dangerous, an involuntary 72-hour hold may be authorized to ensure the person’s safety and provide immediate care.

Is there anything else needed for Emergency Commitment?

Emergency commitments aren’t taken lightly. Besides professional authorization, certain conditions must be met. Let’s explore what else is needed for an emergency commitment in a psychiatric hospital.

  1. Crisis Situation: There needs to be a clear mental health crisis where the individual poses a significant danger to themselves or others of emergency commitment criteria.
  2. Professional Evaluation: A thorough assessment by a medical professional is necessary to determine the level of risk and need for involuntary commitment.
  3. Legal Documentation: Depending on the jurisdiction, certain legal documents may need to be filled out to officially place an individual under a 72-hour hold.
  4. Treatment Plan: Once committed, a treatment plan should be implemented to address the individual’s mental health needs.

Remember, these steps are designed to ensure the safety of the individual and provide them with the help they need.

State Laws for 72-Hour Hold

Can a Voluntary Hospital Admission Turn into an Involuntary Hold?

Regarding the 72-hour hold, laws can differ from state to state. Let’s briefly delve into the common guidelines across these laws.

  1. Initiation: Usually, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, and certain mental health officials can start a hold.
  2. Criteria: The person must be a significant threat to themselves or others due to their mental condition.
  3. Assessment: During the hold, a professional evaluation is done to decide on further action.
  4. Rights: Even when held involuntarily, individuals still have rights such as access to a lawyer and the ability to refuse medication.

What is the difference between the emergency and judicial commitment processes?

Emergency commitment and judicial commitment are two distinct procedures in mental health care. Let’s examine the key differences between them.

  1. Initiation: Emergency commitments are typically initiated by medical professionals or law enforcement during a crisis. Judicial commitments, however, begin with a petition to the court, often by a family member or doctor.
  2. Duration: An emergency commitment is short-term, often lasting 72 hours. Judicial commitments are longer-term and may last until the individual is no longer a threat. Costs of a 5150 increase the longer the duration.
  3. Legal Oversight: Judicial commitments involve more extensive legal processes, including a hearing where evidence is presented before a judge.
  4. Rights: Individuals retain certain rights in both processes, but judicial commitments offer more legal representation and appeal opportunities.

How does the Court decide if I need treatment?

The court’s decision regarding treatment in involuntary holds is a thorough process. Let’s understand the steps involved.

  1. Evaluation: The court considers the evaluation of mental health professionals who have assessed your condition.
  2. Evidence: The court reviews evidence of your behavior, including any risks you pose to yourself or others.
  3. Hearing: A hearing is held where all parties can present their case, and you have the right to legal representation.
  4. Decision: Based on the evidence and professional opinions, the court decides whether treatment is necessary for your well-being.

The court’s priority is always your safety and the safety of others while also upholding your rights.

What happens if the Court finds there is “probable cause”?

If the court determines there is “probable cause” during a hearing for an involuntary hold, several actions can ensue. Let’s take a look at what these might be.

  1. Involuntary Commitment: The court may order you to be involuntarily to a mental health facility for treatment.
  2. Treatment Plan: A treatment plan is established by healthcare professionals to address your specific needs. Please ensure you know the costs of a 72-hour hold with insurance. You should also know who pays for a 72-hour hold.
  3. Regular Review: Your case will be regularly reviewed to assess progress and determine if continued commitment is necessary.
  4. Legal Rights: Despite the involuntary commitment, you retain certain legal rights, such as the right to appeal the decision.

Remember, the court’s primary concern is your well-being and the safety of others. It decides to enforce an involuntary hold very seriously.

What Happens After 72 Hours?

A 72-hour involuntary hold, often necessitated by a severe mental illness or health crisis, can be a challenging experience. However, what happens after these 72 hours? Let’s explore the possible outcomes.

  1. Release: You will be released if mental health professionals determine you no longer threaten yourself or others.
  2. Voluntary Treatment: If you agree to continue with treatment voluntarily, you may remain in the facility or be referred to other resources.
  3. Extended Hold: If there is still significant concern about your safety or the safety of others, mental health professionals might recommend an extended hold. This requires a court hearing and additional legal processes.
  4. Treatment Plan: If you remain in care, whether voluntary or involuntary, a tailored treatment plan will be developed to address your needs.

Who Can Authorize An Involuntary 72-Hour Hold Conclusion

Remember, the primary purpose of an involuntary hold is to protect individuals in crisis and those around them by providing immediate intervention and necessary mental health treatment services. It’s a complex process involving numerous professionals to ensure the safety and well-being of the distressed individual.

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 Are In Crisis

If you find yourself in an emergency where your safety or the safety of others is at risk, it’s crucial to seek immediate help. Don’t wait for an online therapy session – call 911 immediately if you’re in danger to yourself or have plans to harm yourself or others.

Remember, support is always available. If you’re contemplating self-harm, reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 – they’re there for you round the clock.

For those struggling with mental health or substance abuse disorders, remember that you’re not alone. The National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a free, confidential service available 24/7, all year round. Just dial 800-662-HELP (4357) to access treatment options and vital information about managing your condition.

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