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H.750

Introduced by   Representatives Donahue of Northfield, Errecart of Shelburne and Pillsbury of Brattleboro

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Health; mental health; commitment

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to clarify the ability of children under 14 years of age to consent to voluntary admission into a designated mental health facility, to establish a clear process for voluntary admissions for children under 14, to require release of a patient after a 72‑hour hold if the designated hospital has not sought an involuntary admission, and to require a preliminary hearing after a 72‑hour hold.

AN ACT RELATING TO ADMISSIONS TO DESIGNATED MENTAL HEALTH HOSPITALS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  18 V.S.A. § 7503 is amended to read:

§ 7503.  APPLICATION FOR VOLUNTARY ADMISSION

(a)  Any person 14 years of age or over may apply for voluntary admission to a designated hospital for examination and treatment.

(b)  Before the person may be admitted as a voluntary patient he, the person shall give his consent in writing on a form adopted by the department.  The consent shall include a representation that the person understands that his the treatment will involve inpatient status, that he the person desires to be admitted to the hospital, and that he the person consents to admission voluntarily, without any coercion or duress.

(c)  If the person is under 14 years of age, he may be admitted as a voluntary patient if he consents to admission, as provided in subsection (b) of this section, and if a parent or guardian makes written application.

Sec. 2.  18 V.S.A. § 7503a is added to read:

§ 7503a.  VOLUNTARY ADMISSION OF CHILDREN UNDER 14 YEARS

                OF AGE

(a)  A person under 14 years of age may be admitted as a voluntary patient to a designated hospital for examination and treatment if a parent or guardian gives consent to admission.

(b)  Within 72 hours of admission of a person under 14 years of age, the designated hospital shall notify the court of the admission, including the expected duration of stay.  If the person is hospitalized or is expected to be hospitalized longer than 14 days, the patient’s attorney may request a guardian ad litem and may request a review by the family court to determine whether the hospitalization is in the best interests of the child.

Sec. 3.  18 V.S.A. § 8010 is amended to read:

§ 8010.  VOLUNTARY PATIENTS; DISCHARGE; DETENTION

(a)  If a voluntary patient gives notice in writing to the head of the hospital of his the person’s desire to leave the hospital, he the person shall promptly be released unless he agreed in writing at the time of his admission that his release could be delayed.

(b)  In that event and if If the head of the hospital determines that the patient is a patient in need of further treatment, the head of the hospital may detain the patient for a period not to exceed four days from receipt of the notice to leave. Before expiration of the four-day period the head of the hospital shall either release the patient or apply to the district court in the district in which the hospital is located for the involuntary admission of the patient under section 7612 of this title.  The patient shall remain in the hospital pending the court's determination of the case.

(c)  If the patient is under 18 years of age between the ages of 14 and 18 years, the notice to leave may be given by the patient or his the patient’s attorney or the person who applied for admission, provided the minor consents thereto.

Sec. 4.  18 V.S.A. § 7510 is amended to read:

§ 7510.  PRELIMINARY HEARING

(a)  Within five days after a person is admitted to a designated hospital for emergency examination, he may request the district court to shall conduct a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that he the individual was a person in need of treatment at the time of his admission.  If the fifth day falls on a weekend or holiday, the hearing shall be held on the last weekday prior to the weekend or holiday, unless that date would be less than three days from the date of admission, whereupon it shall be held on the first weekday immediately following the weekend or holiday.

(b)  The court shall conduct the hearing within three working days of the filing of the request.  The court shall cause timely notice of the preliminary hearing to be given to the patient or his the patient’s attorney, the hospital, and the attorney for the applicant.

(c)  The individual has the right to be present and represented by legal counsel at the preliminary hearing.  Evidence introduced at a preliminary hearing need not be presented by live witnesses and shall not be admissible at any subsequent hearing regarding the subject of the application.

(d)  If probable cause to believe that the individual was a person in need of treatment at the time of his admission is established at the preliminary hearing, the individual shall be ordered held for further proceedings in accordance with the law.  If probable cause is not established, the individual shall be ordered discharged from the hospital, and the court shall order him the individual returned to the place from which he or she was transported or to his or her home.

(e)  Upon a showing of need, the court may grant a reasonable continuance to either the patient's attorney or the attorney for the state.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us