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Who pays the bill for the Baker Act?
Can children be Baker Acted?
How to file complaints on the Baker Act?
Baker Act situation? Many Floridians wonder who pays the bill for the Baker Act and, unfortunately, the Florida involuntary commitment law, is by nature, involuntary and not required to be done with consent. The patient finances the 72-hour hold even though they did not outright request the involuntary examination.
Every individual, who has a Baker Act situation, has the right to contact his or her own insurance company to discuss the situation.
Per Florida Statute, 394.457 Operation and administration.
(7) PAYMENT FOR CARE OF PATIENTS. Fees and fee collections for patients in state-owned, state-operated, or state-supported treatment facilities shall be according to s. 402.33.
Children and the Baker Act:
It may come as a surprise to most people to find out that children can, by law, be held under the Baker Act for 72 hours. Parents still have rights, and may benefit greatly from learning those rights as soon as possible. Prior to any mental health crisis, is the optimum time to learn all the facts regarding mental health so that parents can prevent crises from every happening.
If a parent finds themselves in a situation where there child has been Baker Acted, it can be extremely helpful to get help from a mental health rights advocate who can walk them through all the basic facts and rights that they have.
Per Florida Statute 394.4785, Children and adolescents; admission and placement in mental facilities.
(1) A child or adolescent as defined in s. 394.492 may not be admitted to a state-owned or state-operated mental health treatment facility. A child may be admitted pursuant to s. 394.4625 or s. 394.467 to a crisis stabilization unit or a residential treatment center licensed under this chapter or a hospital licensed under chapter 395. The treatment center, unit, or hospital must provide the least restrictive available treatment that is appropriate to the individual needs of the child or adolescent and must adhere to the guiding principles, system of care, and service planning provisions contained in part III of this chapter.
(2) A person under the age of 14 who is admitted to any hospital licensed pursuant to chapter 395 may not be admitted to a bed in a room or ward with an adult patient in a mental health unit or share common areas with an adult patient in a mental health unit. However, a person 14 years of age or older may be admitted to a bed in a room or ward in the mental health unit with an adult if the admitting physician documents in the case record that such placement is medically indicated or for reasons of safety. Such placement shall be reviewed by the attending physician or a designee or on-call physician each day and documented in the case record.
394.492 Definitions. As used in ss. 394.490-394.497, the term:
(1) “Adolescent” means a person who is at least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age.
(3) “Child” means a person from birth until the person’s 13th birthday.
Too often Floridians find that they have been fraudulently brought into a mental health ward, under the Baker Act, when in fact they did not meet the criteria as stated in the Florida Mental Health Law. Involuntary examination and involuntary commitment have very specific criteria. Additionally, while in the facility, if the individual feels that there have been violations to the law, they can file complaints on the medical professionals involved, and/or the mental health facility. These are the links to file the complaints.
There are attorneys throughout Florida who can assist in the filing of these complaints. Please see the recommended legal and medical professionals list on our website: https://mentalhealthrights.org/florida-rights-of-persons-in-mental-health-facilities/recommended-attorneys-medical-professionals/
“There were 171,744 involuntary examinations initiated in calendar year 2013”, according to the Baker Act Annual Report, published by the University of South Florida. TThe rate of increase in numbers of Baker Acts, may astonish most as it is reported that between 2002 and 2013 there was a 72.14% increase. Per the Annual Report, this increase is definitely greater than the increase in Florida’s population during that time.
“Almost half (49.65%) of the involuntary exam initiations in 2013 were initiated by law enforcement, with close to half initiated by mental health professionals (48.39%), with the remaining (1.96%) initiated via ex-parte order of a judge.” According to the report.
Training of law enforcement and mental health professionals, in the Baker Act procedure, is typically done by those who are attached to the mental health community and unfortunately, the training does not include a clarification of the criteria for the Baker Act so that it is not unusual to find that an individual was fraudulently, involuntarily committed without ever having met the criteria. This is a bit of a handicap for those in authority to Baker Act as the state has been petitioned to clarify the criteria in terms of administrative rules and declined to do so.
The criteria are very specific and yet most find it confusing and convoluted in terms of being able to distinguish when someone meets the criteria and when they don’t. A crisis can appear to be a mental health crisis when in fact it is a medical crisis having to do with a physical ailment.
A child, who may be misbehaving in school, is subject to questioning by school personnel and then adjudication that the child is a risk to themselves and/or others. Yet, by law, the parent has the right to take their child home, if they are told about the behavior and the possibility of a Baker Act, prior to the actual initiation of it. After the fact, the parent cannot simply remove the child from the facility.
It is not as if more people are experiencing mental health problems than they were a decade or two ago. It is simply that mental health has become a financially rewarding industry for those who are in the position to reap the money. And yet, the numbers of people in Florida who are Baker Acted goes up. Floridians may greatly benefit from learning the facts in terms of what is mental health, what is the field and what are their rights.