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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.634

Introduced by   Representative Chen of Mendon

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Mental health; treatment of minors; parental consent

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to permit a parent or legal guardian to consent to mental health treatment for a minor under the age of 18.  If consent is given by the parent or legal guardian, the bill would provide that the consent of the minor is not necessary to admit the minor to a treatment facility.  The bill would also allow the minor to request a court hearing to determine whether the assessment of the need for treatment was appropriate.

AN ACT RELATING TO A PARENT CONSENTING TO MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT FOR A MINOR UNDER THE AGE OF 18

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

Sec. 1.  18 V.S.A. § 7611 is amended to read:

§ 7611.  INVOLUNTARY TREATMENT

(a)  No person 18 years of age or older may be made subject to involuntary treatment unless he or she is found to be a person in need of treatment or a patient in need of further treatment.

(b)(1)  A parent or legal guardian may consent to the examination of a minor under the age of 18 by a licensed physician for the purpose of determining whether the minor should be admitted to a hospital or other facility for a further determination of whether the minor is a person in need of treatment.  If consent for the examination is given by the parent or legal guardian, the consent of the minor shall not be necessary. 

(2)  If the physician determines, upon examination of the minor pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection, that admission of the minor to the hospital or other facility is medically indicated, the minor shall be admitted with the consent of the parent or guardian.  The consent of the minor shall not be necessary. 

(3)  Within 24 hours after the minor patient’s admission to the hospital or other facility, a physician shall conduct an examination to determine whether the minor patient is a person in need of treatment. 

(A)  If the minor is found to be a person in need of treatment, the physician shall complete a certificate of examination, which shall be executed under penalty of perjury, stating that he or she has examined the minor patient and is of the opinion that the minor patient is a person in need of treatment.  The physician shall file a copy of the certificate with the district court for the district in which the treatment facility is located.

(B)  If the minor is found not to be a person in need of treatment, he or she be discharged from the hospital or other treatment facility and shall return to the custody of his or her parent or guardian, if appropriate, or to the department for children and families. 

(4)(A)  At any time after a minor has been certified as a person in need of treatment and during such time as the minor continues to receive treatment as an inpatient, the minor patient may request the district court for the district in which the treatment facility is located to conduct a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that he or she was a person in need of treatment at the time of admission or continues to be a patient in need of further treatment. 

(B)  Upon receipt of a request for a preliminary hearing from a minor patient, the court shall appoint counsel for the minor patient and transmit a copy of the request, the physician’s certificate, and a notice of hearing to the minor patient, his or her attorney, his or her parent or guardian, the state’s attorney or attorney general, and any other person the court believes has a concern for the minor patient’s welfare.  A copy of the notice of hearing shall also be transmitted to the certifying physician.

(C)  The notice of hearing shall set forth the date and time of the hearing, which shall be no more than ten days from the date of the request for hearing, and shall contain a list of the minor patient’s rights at the hearing.

(D)  As soon as practicable after notice of the hearing is given, the court, on its own motion or upon the motion of the minor patient or his or her attorney or the state of Vermont, shall authorize examination of the minor patient by a psychiatrist other than the physician making the original certification.  The examination and subsequent report or reports shall be paid for by the state of Vermont.  The physician shall report his or her finding to the party requesting the report or to the court if the court requested the examination.

(E)  The hearing shall be conducted according to the rules of evidence applicable in civil actions in the district courts of the state, and, to the extent not inconsistent, the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply.

(F)  The minor patient and his or her parent or guardian shall have a right to appear at the hearing to testify.  The attorneys for the state and the minor patient shall have the right to subpoena, present, and cross-examine witnesses and present oral arguments.  The court may, at its discretion, receive the testimony of any other person.  The minor patient may choose whether to attend the hearing, subject to reasonable rules of conduct, and the court may exclude all persons not necessary for the conduct of the hearing.

(G)  The state shall appear and shall be represented by the state’s attorney for the county in which the hearing takes place, or by the attorney general at his or her discretion.

(H)  If the court finds that the minor patient was not a person in need of treatment at the time of the admission or is not a patient in need of further treatment at the time of the hearing, the court shall enter a finding to that effect and shall order the minor patient discharged from the treatment facility.  If the minor patient is found to have been a person in need of treatment at the time of admission and a patient in need of further treatment at the time of the hearing, the court may order the minor:

(i)  hospitalized in a designated hospital;

(ii)  hospitalized in any other public or private hospital if such hospital agrees to the admission; or

(iii)  to undergo a program of treatment other than hospitalization.

(I)  Prior to ordering the hospitalization of a minor, the court shall conduct a thorough consideration of available alternatives.  The court may order hospitalization only if the court finds that there is no available program of treatment for the minor patient that is an appropriate alternative to hospitalization.  Before making its decision, the court shall order testimony by an appropriate representative of a hospital, community mental health agency, public or private entity or agency, or other suitable person, who shall assess the availability and appropriateness for the individual of treatment programs other than hospitalization.

(J)  Prior to ordering the hospitalization of a minor, the court shall conduct a thorough inquiry into the adequacy of the treatment to be provided to the minor by the hospital.  The court may not order hospitalization unless the court finds that the hospital in which the minor is to be hospitalized can provide the minor with treatment that is adequate and appropriate for his or her condition. 

(K)  Preference among available hospitals or other facilities shall be given to the hospital or facility which is located nearest to the residence of the minor’s parent or guardian, except when the minor or his or her parent or guardian requests otherwise.

(c)  The written application and judicial process requirements contained in sections 7612 through 7621, inclusive, of this title shall not apply to the involuntary treatment of minors under the age of 18. 

Sec. 2.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us