Florida’s Baker Act: What You Need to Know – Part 2

10 Indest-2008-7By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Our firm is frequently retained to act to obtain the release of individuals erroneously confined and held involuntarily under the Baker Act. We hope to share some of the lessons we have learned in representing such individuals and obtaining their release.

This is Part 2 of our blog on Florida’s Baker Act. To read Part 1 of this blog, click here.

Selected Examples of Some of Our Prior Cases.

Here are examples of actual cases in which we have been retained to obtain the release of a Baker Act patient. We have changed the facts somewhat to protect the identities of the individuals and the facilities involved.

Case #1: An independent elderly woman who still worked and was completely independent tripped and fell in her apartment, injuring herself. Her roommate took her to the local hospital emergency room to be examined and treated for the physical injury. The emergency room staff had her involuntarily confined in the hospital’s Baker Act unit and would not release her. She was not a danger to herself or to others. She was completely independent and held a good paying job. Her roommate drove her around and to medical appointments. She had never been diagnosed with a mental illness before and had never been Baker Acted before. Because of the Baker Act confinement, she missed several of her regular medical appointments which she had scheduled.

Case #2: The president of a medium-sized manufacturing company in another state came to Florida for a business conference at which his company had a display. On the last night of the conference, he partied late, drank too much and a friend took him to a hospital emergency room. He had a plane ticket to leave the next day. The hospital emergency room staff diagnosed him with depression and had him involuntarily confined under the Baker Act. He missed his flight home, and one of his company officials had to come to Florida to try to get him released.

Case #3: The fairly new wife of a businessman who worked a lot and who already had two small children, delivered twins. About six months later, the nanny quit at during the same week that they were supposed to move to a new home. The wife went to her OB/GYN for her routine follow-up visit. She was tired and run down from the loss of her nanny, getting ready to move, taking care of all of the small children, etc. Questioning by her OB/GYN indicated that she may have been depressed. The OB/GYN had his two nurses from his office walk her over to the hospital emergency room (which was next door) to be Baker Acted. Her husband and kids were then at home without a nanny and without mom. Mom was angry and upset because she was not suicidal, felt that she had been betrayed by her doctor and was not a threat to herself, her children or anyone else. She felt she was a prisoner, confined without any rights.

Case #4: A 14-year-old girl in high school broke up with her best friend around Christmas time. She was somewhat depressed and wrote down her thoughts about “ending it all.” Several months later, at the end of the school semester someone found the anonymous note (it had been inside her textbook) and turned it into the teacher. The teacher and principal are eventually able to identify the handwriting and confront the teenager. She admitted that it was her note but denied any suicidal thoughts. The principal called the sheriff’s department and sheriff’s deputies came and took her away to a Baker Act facility over her parents’ protests. She was then involuntarily confined there.

Case #5: A happily married mother of three young adults (who were in college and lived with their mother and father) had a long history of depression for which she saw her own psychiatrist on a regular basis (for more than ten years) and received prescription medication to control it. Her psychiatrist routinely adjusted her medications as needed. Her psychiatrist had recently adjusted her medication, but then was out of town on vacation for two weeks. She had a reaction to the medication adjustment. She telephoned her psychiatrist’s office and was instructed to go to the nearest hospital emergency room to have her medications adjusted. She did this. Instead of getting her medications adjusted, she was involuntarily confined in the hospital’s behavioral health unit under the Baker Act, Her husband (a professional) and her children, who live with her and depend on her, are distraught and could not convince the hospital or its medical staff to release her.

The cases above are all based on actual cases in which we were retained by the individual or the family. We were able to obtain the individual’s prompt release from the Baker Act facility.

Serious Problems We See Over and Over Again.

– The staff and treating physician constantly pressure the patient to convert their involuntary confinement (which may be expiring shortly, or there may be no grounds to renew it) to a voluntary admission. If this occurs, then they can keep the person as long as they desire. However, they threaten that if the patient attempts to leave, even though the patient is now there voluntarily, then they will have the patient involuntarily confined under the Baker Act.

– The patient is angry and upset at being imprisoned when he or she came to the hospital voluntarily for help. As a result, he or she rants and raves and threatens the doctors and staff with litigation or refuses to talk to them. This may serve to reinforce the doctor and staff’s concerns that the patient is mentally ill or irrational.

– Some of our clients have expressed concerns that because they have excellent health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE coverage (all of which cover hospitalizations), that they are being held involuntarily against their will when they should not be, while indigents who really have serious mental health issues are discharged immediately. They express concerns that they are being held involuntarily solely because the hospital and physician are getting paid to keep them.

– Individuals who have medical problems, but are successfully living independently and obtaining regular medical treatment for their ailments, may not receive the appropriate type of medical care they need when they are being confined in a psychiatric facility. Their prescription medications are at home, and they are not able to take their prescribed medications. Their regular treating physicians are not called or consulted. Their continuity of care is interrupted by the confinement.

– The regular treating physicians of those confined may not visit or see them while they are confined in a different hospital from the one(s) in which the treating physician has approved clinical privileges.

We Work to Get Victims Out Quickly.

Our firm has a process we follow to make sure that a person who should not be held under the Baker Act may be released in a very short time. If the basic criteria for a Baker Act confinement are not present, the person is not required to be held and should be released. If the person has been living independently for decades, has family and a support system available, and has had no prior mental health problems, the odds are he or she should not be involuntarily confined. We act immediately to begin our representation, to make the hospital and its physicians aware that we are representing a victim, and to take measures to obtain release. If required, we are prepared to file an emergency Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the local Circuit Court to have the victim brought before the judge for an emergency release hearing. These cases can be time intensive, require a great deal of immediate work, but can yield fast results in most cases.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Victims of Involuntary Confinement Through the Baker Act Act.

The Health Law Firm represents individuals, families and friends in challenges to and hearings related to the Florida Baker Act and Marchman Act, when the basic criteria for confinement are not met and there is no medical necessity for further confinement.

Our firm has a process we follow to make sure that a person who should not be held under the Baker Act may be released quickly. We act immediately to begin our representation, to make the hospital and its physicians aware that we are representing the victim, and to take measures to obtain release. If required, we are prepared to file an emergency Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the local Circuit Court to have the victim brought before the judge for an emergency release hearing. These cases can be time intensive, require a great deal of immediate work, but can yield fast results in most cases.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for Baker Act cases, Baker Act defense attorney, legal representation for involuntary Baker Act confinement, legal representation for involuntary confinement in hospital, legal representation for confinement in Baker Act facility, legal representation for mental health confinement, petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Baker Act attorney, Baker Act defense lawyer, Florida Baker Act defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Florida’s Baker Act: What You Need to Know – Part 1

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

At The Health Law Firm, we are frequently consulted by family members of individuals who are erroneously held under Florida’s Baker Act. An erroneous confinement under the Baker Act can occur for a number of different reasons. However, the result is that an independent citizen is confined in violation of his/her constitutional rights to liberty, privacy and the pursuit of happiness.

The Baker Act allows a licensed health professional to order an individual who is a threat to themselves or others because of a mental illness to be involuntarily held. The individual may then be held in certain designated health facilities for up to 72 hours for an initial psychiatric evaluation.

If the psychiatrist examining the confined individual feels that he or she should be held for further evaluation, then he or she can be held up to a week.

 

When to Call a Baker Act Attorney.

Over-cautious physicians, emergency room personnel, school officials, nursing home staff and other authorities may call upon the Baker Act to have those that they suspect may be a danger and have a mental problem involuntarily confined. If they are believed to be a threat, usually that individual may be legally involuntarily confined under the Baker Act. Seniors living on their own and teenagers are often the “victims” of this process.

If the individual being held under the Baker Act is not really a threat to themselves or others and the facility will not agree to release them, this is the time to call an attorney. Mistakes often occur as health personnel, school administrators and law enforcement personnel do not want to take the chance of someone committing suicide or killing others.

Factors that may indicate the person should not be held under the Baker Act include:

1. No prior history of mental illness or Baker Acts.
2. Supportive family/friends in the immediate area.
3. Acts/statements made not truly a threat to self or others.
4. Regular treating physician or health care personnel in area.
5. No current signs of mental illness.

 

Examples of abuses of the Baker Act that can occur:

1. Individuals who do not have a mental condition and do not meet the basic criteria for the Baker Act may be involuntarily confined and deprived of their freedom.

2. Children are involuntarily confined at facilities that are not really set up to take care of the medical and mental health needs of children.

3. Because of overcrowding, the person is taken to or transferred to a facility far away from his or her home, family and friends.

4. A person who has other medical problems or chronic medical problems (especially true with the elderly) is confined in a Baker Act facility and is unable to receive regular medical care or attend scheduled appointments with their regular treating physicians.

5. A person who is taking one or more prescriptions for medical problems will not be allowed to take them while confined in the Baker Act facility. This can lead to a deterioration of the person’s medical condition.

6. If the person has a regular psychiatrist or therapist, that person is not allowed to see or treat the person where he or she is confined because the therapist is not on the medical staff of the Baker Act facility.

7. If the person has a regular psychiatrist or therapist, that psychotherapist is, most often, not spoken to or consulted by the psychiatrist or staff of the Baker Act facility, even though the regular treating psychotherapist may know far more about the confined patients condition than anyone else.

8. An individual may be confined in a facility in which one or more dangerous patients are also confined. Our clients have reported assaults and sexual molestation which have occurred at such facilities when they were confined involuntarily under the Baker Act.

9. It has been reported to us by our clients that it seems if they have good health insurance (or Medicare) then they are kept longer because the insurance company (or Medicare) is paying the hospital for the inpatient stay, which can be a large amount of money.

10. Sometimes the family is located in another state and merely wants to have the person released so he or she can be taken where they are so the family is better able to support their needs.

Examples of How The Health Law Firm Can Help.

We often receive calls from the husband, wife, parents, children or friends of individuals who have been confined involuntarily to a mental facility. Often, we are called on to respond urgently to obtain the release of someone who may have been incorrectly confined to a mental institution without their consent.

Occasionally, we assist in cases in which the family may be located in another state and the patient is located here in Florida. Often, we are able to obtain a prompt release of the confined person in cases in which the basic requirements for an involuntary confinement under Florida Law do not exist and the patient should not have been confined.

We have been involved in working on an expedited basis with the hospital, mental institution or court to obtain the release of individuals who should not be confined or who desire to be released into the custody and care of their family or back to their own independence.

For a sample of an Emergency Petition for Write of Habeas Corpus we prepared with its supporting documentation, and which contains citations to the appropriate legal authorities, click here.  A Memorandum of Law (legal brief) in support of the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus is also included with it.

The Baker Act Is Not a Bad Thing.

We realize that the Baker Act is a good thing. Many people who may have serious mental health issues and fail to obtain treatment, should be involuntarily confined under the Baker Act. Sometimes this is the only way they will ever be treated correctly. Additionally, it is also a good thing that police, deputy sheriffs and other law enforcement officers are receiving training which is now resulting in more Baker Act hospitalizations and fewer arrests. This helps an individual to avoid a serious arrest and possible conviction of a serious offense (giving them a criminal record forever) when they may need only medical treatment for a mental condition.

Check this blog regularly for more on Florida’s Baker Act and the Marchman Act.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Victims of Involuntary Confinement Through the Baker Act and Marchman Act.

The Health Law Firm represents individuals, families and friends in challenges to and hearings related to the Florida Baker Act and Marchman Act, when the basic criteria for confinement are not met and there is no medical necessity for further confinement.

Our firm has a process we follow to make sure that a person who should not be held under the Baker Act may be released in a very short time. If the basic criteria for a Baker Act confinement are not present, the person is not required to be held and should be released. If the person has been living independently for decades, has family and a support system available, and has had no prior mental health problems, the odds are he or she should not be involuntarily confined. We act immediately to begin our representation, to make the hospital and its physicians aware that we are representing you, and to take measures to obtain release. If required, we are prepared to file an emergency Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the local Circuit Court to have you brought before the judge for an emergency release hearing. These cases can be time intensive, require a great deal of immediate work, but can yield fast results in most cases.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

 

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
KeyWords: Baker Act defense attorney, legal representation for Baker Act cases, legal representation for involuntary Baker Act confinement, legal representation for involuntary confinement in hospital, mental health confinement defense attorney, petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Baker Act attorney, Baker Act defense lawyer, legal representation for Florida Baker Act, Florida Marchman Act defense attorney, legal representation for Baker Act law, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.