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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XVII PUBLIC WELFARE
  • CHAPTER 123 MENTAL HEALTH
  • Section 12 Emergency restraint and hospitalization of persons posing risk of serious harm by reason of mental illness

Section 12. (a) Any physician who is licensed pursuant to section 2 of chapter 112 or qualified psychiatric nurse mental health clinical specialist authorized to practice as such under regulations promulgated pursuant to the provisions of section 80B of said chapter 112 or a qualified psychologist licensed pursuant to sections 118 to 129, inclusive, of said chapter 112, or a licensed independent clinical social worker licensed pursuant to sections 130 to 137, inclusive, of chapter 112 who, after examining a person, has reason to believe that failure to hospitalize such person would create a likelihood of serious harm by reason of mental illness may restrain or authorize the restraint of such person and apply for the hospitalization of such person for a 3-day period at a public facility or at a private facility authorized for such purposes by the department. If an examination is not possible because of the emergency nature of the case and because of the refusal of the person to consent to such examination, the physician, qualified psychologist, qualified psychiatric nurse mental health clinical specialist or licensed independent clinical social worker on the basis of the facts and circumstances may determine that hospitalization is necessary and may apply therefore. In an emergency situation, if a physician, qualified psychologist, qualified psychiatric nurse mental health clinical specialist or licensed independent clinical social worker is not available, a police officer, who believes that failure to hospitalize a person would create a likelihood of serious harm by reason of mental illness may restrain such person and apply for the hospitalization of such person for a 3-day period at a public facility or a private facility authorized for such purpose by the department. An application for hospitalization shall state the reasons for the restraint of such person and any other relevant information which may assist the admitting physician or physicians. Whenever practicable, prior to transporting such person, the applicant shall telephone or otherwise communicate with a facility to describe the circumstances and known clinical history and to determine whether the facility is the proper facility to receive such person and also to give notice of any restraint to be used and to determine whether such restraint is necessary.

(b) Only if the application for hospitalization under the provisions of this section is made by a physician specifically designated to have the authority to admit to a facility in accordance with the regulations of the department, shall such person be admitted to the facility immediately after his reception. If the application is made by someone other than a designated physician, such person shall be given a psychiatric examination by a designated physician immediately after his reception at such facility. If the physician determines that failure to hospitalize such person would create a likelihood of serious harm by reason of mental illness he may admit such person to the facility for care and treatment.

Upon admission of a person under the provisions of this subsection, the facility shall inform the person that it shall, upon such person’s request, notify the committee for public counsel services of the name and location of the person admitted. Said committee for public counsel services shall forthwith appoint an attorney who shall meet with the person. If the appointed attorney determines that the person voluntarily and knowingly waives the right to be represented, or is presently represented or will be represented by another attorney, the appointed attorney shall so notify said committee for public counsel services, which shall withdraw the appointment.

Any person admitted under the provisions of this subsection, who has reason to believe that such admission is the result of an abuse or misuse of the provisions of this subsection, may request, or request through counsel an emergency hearing in the district court in whose jurisdiction the facility is located, and unless a delay is requested by the person or through counsel, the district court shall hold such hearing on the day the request is filed with the court or not later than the next business day.

(c) No person shall be admitted to a facility under the provisions of this section unless he, or his parent or legal guardian in his behalf, is given an opportunity to apply for voluntary admission under the provisions of paragraph (a) of section ten and unless he, or such parent or legal guardian has been informed (1) that he has a right to such voluntary admission, and (2) that the period of hospitalization under the provisions of this section cannot exceed three days. At any time during such period of hospitalization, the superintendent may discharge such person if he determines that such person is not in need of care and treatment.

(d) A person shall be discharged at the end of the three day period unless the superintendent applies for a commitment under the provisions of sections seven and eight of this chapter or the person remains on a voluntary status.

(e) Any person may make application to a district court justice or a justice of the juvenile court department for a three day commitment to a facility of a mentally ill person whom the failure to confine would cause a likelihood of serious harm. The court shall appoint counsel to represent said person. After hearing such evidence as he may consider sufficient, a district court justice or a justice of the juvenile court department may issue a warrant for the apprehension and appearance before him of the alleged mentally ill person, if in his judgment the condition or conduct of such person makes such action necessary or proper. Following apprehension, the court shall have the person examined by a physician designated to have the authority to admit to a facility or examined by a qualified psychologist in accordance with the regulations of the department. If said physician or qualified psychologist reports that the failure to hospitalize the person would create a likelihood of serious harm by reason of mental illness, the court may order the person committed to a facility for a period not to exceed three days, but the superintendent may discharge him at any time within the three day period. The periods of time prescribed or allowed under the provisions of this section shall be computed pursuant to Rule 6 of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.