Legislation would have provided key tool to protect patient exhibiting mental health issue
(Austin – June 3, 2015) – The Texas Hospital Association, on behalf of its 400-plus member hospitals, is disappointed that Gov. Greg Abbott chose to veto Senate Bill 359 that would have given physicians in hospitals a much-needed tool to help patients in psychiatric distress and protect community safety.
The bill would have allowed physicians to initiate a temporary, four-hour hold of a patient with mental illness who is judged to be a danger to self or others only if the governing body of a facility adopts a policy permitting the hold. During that time, the patient would have received necessary crisis psychiatric care, which would reduce the risk that he or she would self-harm or engage in violent or destructive acts in the community.
Allowing a physician to temporarily hold a patient with mental illness also would have alleviated the burden on law enforcement officers throughout our state who have multiple and competing demands for their services.
S.B. 359 included precautions and protections to preserve civil liberties while also allowing sufficient time to deliver behavioral health care to a person judged to be a danger to self or others. The bill would have required a patient to be released at the end of the four-hour period unless the physician or hospital arranges for a peace officer to initiate an emergency detention under the officer’s authority or an order of protective custody is issued.
An overwhelming majority of Texas legislators voted for S.B. 359, and the bill had the support not only of Texas hospitals but also the Texas Medical Association, Sherriff’s Association of Texas and National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.