Week 5 of Educational Series on Mental Health Records in Florida: Request for Discharge verses Habeas Corpus
When either an emancipated minor or adult patient in a mental health facility in Florida desires to be discharged, there are 2 options for them, depending upon their admission/commitment status.
For voluntarily admitted patients, a “Request for Discharge” form is used. Once completed by the patient, the form must be filed by the nurse and the attending or on-call provider must be notified at the time it is completed. The provider may consent to the discharge immediately or may wait to reassess the patient before making a decision. The maximum time the provider has to complete the evaluation and make a decision is 24 hours, so timing is an important factor to consider when reviewing records. IF the provider determines it is not safe to discharge the patient, then the patient will either have to willingly withdraw their request in writing, or the provider can change them to involuntary status.
For involuntarily admitted patients, a Habeus Corpus is used. It is an official form which must be completed by the patient, and the facility’s administrator must file it with the Court. Patients filing a Habeus Corpus often believe that the court will be forced to take immediate action to discharge them and that they will be out in a couple of days, but this is not the case. The process takes time, and facilities have no control over court schedules and proceedings. For the brave at heart, take a look at the corresponding Florida Statutes:
Regardless of admission status, nurses have a duty to educate the patient about their rights as a patient in mental health facility in Florida, and to assist with the process. It is not for us to determine if the patient’s reasons are valid, reasonable, or logical. Policies must be followed without exception, and documents must be retained in the patient’s records.