Press-Republican

Local News

June 18, 2013

Mental-health agencies eye new gun law

(Continued)

And it says that, if the judgment is made in good faith, the provider’s decision “cannot be the basis for any civil or criminal liability on the part of that professional.”

But it doesn’t seem that straightforward, Trout said.

“Attorneys have advised us that the law doesn’t adequately address HIPAA.”

BHSN will not release any clinical information unless the patient consents to it, he said.

That agency reports demographic information, including the name, address and date of birth of the patient, to Gillette’s office, Trout said.

He noted that, under the law, only a small number of Behavioral Health Services North’s staff are required to report.

‘FAIR PERCENTAGE’

In an emergency room or a psychiatric unit, it’s not unusual for mental-health patients to say they want to hurt themselves, Gillette said.

That is often the reason people are admitted into the hospital in the first place, Schmidt-Twiss said.

So, a “fair percentage” of mental-health patients at CVPH are reported to Gillette, she said.

She estimated CVPH conducts about eight to 10 mental-health “crisis evaluations” each day, and, of those, about half are admitted to be treated, although statistics vary widely.

SECURITY

The Office of Mental Health told the Press-Republican that fewer than 10 percent of the approximately 170 employees of the Division of Criminal Justice Services Office of Criminal Justice Operations who have confidential access to the agency’s data are able to access the reports, which do not contain any clinical or medical history.

The reports will not be kept in an online database, the agency said.

‘THE WHOLE PICTURE’

Prior to the passage of the SAFE Act, the state’s Mental Hygiene Law authorized health-care providers to issue an order that, if approved by the director of community services, would allow police to transport someone to a hospital emergency room for evaluation if the person appeared to be mentally ill and an imminent danger to self or others, Gillette said.

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