Steinberg Institute

Steinberg Institute sponsors bill to ensure follow-up for patients leaving protective holds

Posted on Monday, February 25, 2019

Legislation by Assemblymember Marc Levine would require patients to have scheduled appointments

SACRAMENTO, CA – All too often, Californians suffering a mental health crisis are given emergency involuntary commitments in psychiatric facilities so that they can get inpatient evaluation and care, but once they are determined to have stabilized they are sent away without any concrete plan for follow-up care.
 
The Steinberg Institute wants that lack of follow-through to stop and is thus sponsoring AB 1055, a bill authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine  (D-Marin County) that would require an appointment be scheduled for within five days of a person’s release from a 72-hour emergency mental health and evaluation hold.
 
“Research shows that people are at an increased risk of suicide in the days after they are discharged from a psychiatric unit.  Just as when people are discharged after a heart attack or stroke, good care includes careful follow up,” said Dr. Tom Insel, a member of the Steinberg Institute’s board of directors who is a nationally renowned expert on brain disorders.  
 
“To send vulnerable people out the door without an effective plan for their continued treatment is not acceptable in mental health care anymore than it would be for other medical disorders. We can and we must do better,” Insel said.
 
AB 1055 focuses on involuntary commitments of individuals who – due to mental illness – pose a danger to themselves or others, or who are gravely disabled and require inpatient psychiatric evaluation and care for up to 72 hours at a time. It requires that a psychiatrist, psychologist, or medical director approving the release of a patient from such a psychiatric hold must schedule an initial outpatient appointment with a psychiatrist or psychologist within five business days of the date when the release is scheduled.
 
At least 136,874 adults and 18,627 people under the age of 18 were placed on 72-hour holds in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, although no commitments at all were shown for numerous counties, according to the most recent report available online from the California Department of Health Care Services.
 
Currently, state regulations require only that those people covered by insurance get access to a non-urgent appointment within 10 days, if they choose to seek one. Data from 2017, however, showed that standard only being met 71 percent to 87 percent of the time.
 
For more information: Patrick Hoge (office) 916-297-4494, (cell) 510-435-2320, patrick@steinberginstitute.org
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