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Departments & Programs,UW Medical Foundation,Patient Resources,Social Work Services Quick Guide,Social Work Manual,Mental/Emotional Health,Detention and Committment

Chapter 51

Chapter 51 - Departments & Programs, UW Medical Foundation, Patient Resources, Social Work Services Quick Guide, Social Work Manual, Mental/Emotional Health, Detention and Committment


Chapter 51
State Alcohol, Drug Abuse, Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Act
Mental and Alcohol Commitments

Persons Covered:

Emergency Detention (51.15):

Policy 10.14 - Emergency Detention

Policy 10.17 - Involuntary Commitment

Effective July 1, 2009, there has been a change in the mental health commitment law. Prior to this date, we were asked to inform Crisis of our wish to commit a patient. They might come to evaluate the patient, they might consent with evaluation, and on some occasions, they might evaluate the patient and disagree with our plan to commit. We would still contact the University Police if we felt that commitment was in order. Sometimes the patient was commitment anyway. This was a “courtesy” relationship with DCMHC.

The new changes to Chapter 51 make this agreement mandatory. It appears that Mendota, for example, will not accept a patient unless DCMHC has signed off on the commitment and the police will not initiate a commitment without DCMHC’s imprimatur. All on-call residents will need to clear their commitments with DCMHC or the county that is responsible for the commitment. This may be problematic as some counties do not have 24/7 service availability. The State is wrestling with this (and we will, too). Bottom line is that you MUST for Dane County patient’s obtain DCMHC’s approval for commitment (and document it). This leaves room for clinical disagreement and issues of negligence. Make sure you utilize your back-up faculty in cases of dispute. If necessary, call me with on-going problem cases.

Burr Eichelman, M.D., Ph.D.

Director, Hospital Psychiatric Emergency Services