Voluntary Mental Health Patient admissions rights under the Texas Mental Health Code-violation may provide a cause of action

          If you went to a mental health facility for help, were convinced that you needed inpatient treatment and then were not allowed to leave when you requested to do so your rights under the mental health code or other statutes of your state may have been violated. 

The following are the requirements for the State of Texas.  Your state may be different and probably is but the overall requirements give you some idea of what is required of the mental health facility before they admit you to an inpatient treatment facility. 

Under the Texas Mental Health Code the admission requirements are both written and verbal notice of your rights. 

In writing: 

  • estimated average daily charge for inpatient treatment with an explanation that you may be billed separately for multiple service providers;
  • name of the attending physician or mental health care professional;
  • a current patient’s “bill of rights” that sets out the restrictions on your freedom during your stay;

A treatment facility may not represent to you, verbally or in writing, any of the following: 

  • the availability or amount of insurance coverage or amount that you may be responsible for;
  • that if you request to leave against medical advice that you will be subject to an involuntary commitment or emergency detention unless that representation is made after you have been evaluated by a doctor within 48 hours;
  • that your insurance company will refuse to pay all or any part of the claim if you leave against medical advice. 

This prohibition is especially important, a mental health facility may not recommend that you be admitted as an inpatient unless that recommendation is made by a licensed physician or mental health care professional.  Once the recommendation has been made that you voluntarily admit yourself for inpatient treatment then you must be provided, in writing, the information just mentioned.  Specifically you must be provided with the estimated average daily charge for inpatient treatment with an explanation that you may be billed separately for multiple service providers.  Were you told this?  Were you provided this in writing? You must be provided with the name of the attending physician or mental health care professional.  Were you told this?  Were you provided this in writing?  The third requirement is very important, you must be provided with a current patient’s “bill of rights”.  Were you advised verbally of those rights?  Were you provided a written copy of your patient’s “bill of rights”?  Do you have a copy of it?  Is it in your records from the mental health care facility? 

     The Texas Mental Health Code is very specific as to the procedure that must be followed.  These provisions of the Texas Mental Health Code are so important, so significant, in their impact on your right to liberty that I am going to read it. 

     “(f)    Before a facility may admit a patient for inpatient mental health, chemical dependency, or comprehensive medical rehabilitation services, or before a child-care facility may accept a minor for treatment the facility shall provide to the person and, if appropriate, to the person’s parent, managing conservator, or guardian, a written copy of the applicable “bill of rights’ adopted under this section.  The facility shall provide the written copies in the person’s primary language, if possible.  In addition, the facility shall ensure that, within 24 hours after the person is admitted to the facility, the rights specified in the written copy are explained to the person and, if appropriate, to the person’s parent, managing conservator, or guardian: 

  • orally, in simple, nontechnical terms in the person’s primary language, if possible; or
  • through a means reasonably calculated to communicate with a person who has an impairment of vision or hearing, if applicable. 
  • The facility shall ensure that:
  • each patient admitted for inpatient mental health, chemical dependency, or comprehensive rehabilitation services and each minor admitted for treatment in a child-care facility and, if appropriate, the person’s parent, managing conservator, or guardian signs a copy of the document stating that the person has read the document and understands the rights specified in the document; and
  • a signed copy is made a part of the patient’s clinical record. 
  • A facility shall prominently and conspicuously post a copy of the “bill of rights” for display in a public area of the facility that is readily available to patients, residents, employees and visitors.  The “bill of rights” must be in English and in a second language. “ 

If you would like to read these provisions for yourself you can find them in the Texas Mental Health Code, Subtitle G. Provisions of services in certain facilities, Section 321. 002. 

     The key points are that the mental health facility must provide you with a written copy of your patient’s “bill of rights”, you must sign a copy of your patient’s “bill of rights’ and that signed copy must be put into your records. 

     Rather than simply requiring that you sign your patient’s “bill of rights’ in the stack of papers you are requested to sign when you agreed to an inpatient stay those rights must be explained to you in simple, non-technical terms what your rights are if you wish to leave and that advisal must be within 24 hours of your admission. 

     The State of Texas has adopted an excellent Mental Health Code.  Most states also have similar provisions which may be applicable to your particular situation.  If the mental health care facility you were admitted to did not comply with these very simple and clear admission requirements then you may have a cause of action against the mental health care facility. 

You may be entitled to recover your actual damages including damages for mental anguish in addition to possibly exemplary damages and attorney fees as well as injunctive relief.   

Under Texas law you have two years from the date of you incurring damages.  If you were a minor at the time of your admission you must bring suit within two years of your eighteenth birthday.  In other words you must bring suit before your twentieth birthday. 

You may have a cause of action to be pursued in state court for a violation of your state’s mental health code such as that outlined here in the State of Texas.  Please contact us to discuss your situation and to investigate your potential case.  The case involving the state specific cause of action will be referred to a licensed and qualified attorney who will be responsible for your state claims.  If there have been violations of state law for the state where you live there is a good possibility that you have a cause of action for violations of federal law and your constitutional rights as well.  There is no guarantee of such violations but without investigation you may never know. 

Time limitations apply to all causes of action and vary from one state to the next.  The two year statute of limitations may not apply in your state.

 If you contacted a mental health facility for assistance; were recommended for inpatient treatment and then held without your consent before finally being released you should review the admission procedure to determine whether or not the admission requirements for your state were followed.  If not, you may have a cause of action but you won’t know unless you investigate it.

 Your rights are not limited to the admission requirements we have talked about.  These requirements are among the first that should be investigated. 

Please contact us, we will do everything we can to help. 

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