Physicians and nurse practitioners soon may have the authority to order juveniles who are suicidal, severely mentally ill or pose a threat to others into temporary custody at a hospital or some other health care facility.
A bill approved Thursday by the House Health and Welfare Committee sets out to fix a void in Idaho law and streamline a process that now requires law enforcement involvement.
Idaho Medical Association lobbyist Ken McClure said the bill is modeled after existing law that gives doctors permission to hold severely mentally ill or dangerous adults for up to 24 hours. But state statute currently offers nothing specific for detaining with dangerous juveniles, forcing doctors to default to rules requiring consent by law enforcement before juveniles can be placed into short-term custody.Now, let me emphasize: a judge will still have to approve holding someone (either adult or minor) for more than 24 hours. But there are times when a decision has to be made quickly, more for the benefit of the minor than for the benefit of the public.
There were some Republicans who voted against this bill, because they wanted parental consent for this. I can understand their concerns -- they may not realize that there are times when parents would prefer not having a minor with serious problems hospitalized, for fear that the minor may reveal secrets that the parents would prefer be kept secret.
The bill is H0189.