Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What is a 5150 Anyway?

A 5150 is, in California, the term for an involuntary psychiatric hold that lasts up to 72 hours. People, such as myself, are designated to write such holds when there is probable cause that an individual poses a danger to themselves, to others, and/or cannot provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves because of a mental illness. So, who could be put on a hold?* An individual who states they are going to kill themselves and have a realistic, lethal plan and the ability to carry it out.* An individual who states they want to kill or seriously injure another person and have a realistic, lethal plan and the ability to carry it out.* Someone who cannot or will not meet their basic needs because of their mental illness. For instance, a person who refuses to eat because they believe their food is poisoned or who will not stay at home because they believe they are being watched or plotted against.
That said, who would not necessarily be holdable? Usually those who are exercising their freedom of choice. When we place someone on a hold we are essentially denying them this freedom. Some instances might be:* A terminally ill individual who has decided to refuse life-prolonging treatment.* A chronic alcoholic.* A homeless individual who is such because of life circumstances or by choice.* Someone who refuses medical treatment and “must be crazy” for doing so.
In today’s litigious environment, you will find that it’s easier to be placed on a hold than not. What professional is willing to risk their livelihood on the slim chance that someone might kill themselves the day after they leave the hospital?
The moniker “5150” is taken directly from the California Welfare and Institutions Code; it’s the number of the section dealing with involuntary psychiatric holds. Likewise, the other psychiatric holds are referred to on the basis of their section numbers as well: the 14-day hold is a 5250; the 30-day hold is a 5350.Sphere: Related Content

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