Monday, March 4, 2013

Another Bill Moving Through the Idaho Legislature

Idaho has a serious shortage of psychiatric beds, but at least our statute with respect to mental illness involuntary commitment isn't absurdly difficult.  Except in one curious area: mental health professionals can make a decision to do an emergency commitment of an adult if they believe that there is an imminent danger, but not a minor!  There is a bill to correct this moving through the legislature now.  From the February 28, 2013 San Francisco Chronicle:
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.

1 comment:

  1. There will also be times when the parents aren't available to consent. Even minors who live with both parents have been known to drive more than a few miles away from home.