Providence, RI asked in Health Care Law and Civil Rights for Rhode Island

Q: can RI hospital psych ward hold a patient who called SuicideHotline on themself After patient request leave after 3 days

Patient had a minor past suicide attempt over 2 years ago and seeked help. Since has made Major improvement and no issues since. Patient called suicide hotline due to depression and anxiety, and is now being held for 3 days and wishes to leave to seek therapy and feels they do not need inpatient psychward stay. However doctors are not giving patient the option to freely choose to leave or type of help they choose to seek and are not letting family visits at this time still. Patient would also like access to TV or journaling options, since that has been a large affect to improvement in their mental health. Just wondering what laws or regulations this patient has in order to feel less helpless and access to questions they would like answered. In order to understand what's going to happen going forward. This is not a regular occurrence with this patient, anxiety is and they are on meds for it. Any information to help or comfort this patient I'm speaking of would help greatly. Thank you

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: In Rhode Island, mental health facilities have the authority to hold a patient for evaluation and treatment if they believe the patient poses a risk to themselves or others due to a mental health condition. This can occur even if the patient voluntarily sought help initially.

If a patient is held involuntarily, the law typically requires a hearing within a specific timeframe to determine if ongoing involuntary treatment is necessary. The patient has the right to be represented by an attorney at this hearing.

Regarding your concerns about the lack of access to certain amenities and restrictions on visitation, it's important to discuss these issues with the hospital staff. Facilities often have policies in place regarding patient activities and visitation, which can be influenced by the patient's condition and treatment needs.

The patient also has a right to request information about their treatment plan and the criteria for their discharge. Communication with the healthcare providers is key in understanding and participating in the treatment process.

If you believe that the patient's rights are being violated or if the patient disagrees with the treatment being provided, it's advisable to seek legal advice. An attorney can help navigate the complexities of mental health law and advocate for the patient's rights and preferences regarding their treatment.

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