2023 Florida Statutes< Back to Statute Search
Title XXIX PUBLIC HEALTH
Chapter 394 MENTAL HEALTH
SECTION 459Rights of patients.
394.459 Rights of patients.—
(1) RIGHT TO INDIVIDUAL DIGNITY.—It is the policy of this state that the individual dignity of the patient shall be respected at all times and upon all occasions, including any occasion when the patient is taken into custody, held, or transported. Procedures, facilities, vehicles, and restraining devices utilized for criminals or those accused of crime shall not be used in connection with persons who have a mental illness, except for the protection of the patient or others. Persons who have a mental illness but who are not charged with a criminal offense shall not be detained or incarcerated in the jails of this state. A person who is receiving treatment for mental illness shall not be deprived of any constitutional rights. However, if such a person is adjudicated incapacitated, his or her rights may be limited to the same extent the rights of any incapacitated person are limited by law.
(2) RIGHT TO TREATMENT.—
(a) A person shall not be denied treatment for mental illness and services shall not be delayed at a receiving or treatment facility because of inability to pay. However, every reasonable effort to collect appropriate reimbursement for the cost of providing mental health services to persons able to pay for services, including insurance or third-party payments, shall be made by facilities providing services pursuant to this part.
(b) It is further the policy of the state that the least restrictive appropriate available treatment be utilized based on the individual needs and best interests of the patient and consistent with optimum improvement of the patient’s condition.
(c) Each person who remains at a receiving or treatment facility for more than 12 hours shall be given a physical examination by a health practitioner authorized by law to give such examinations, within 24 hours after arrival at such facility.
(d) Every patient in a facility shall be afforded the opportunity to participate in activities designed to enhance self-image and the beneficial effects of other treatments, as determined by the facility.
(e) Not more than 5 days after admission to a facility, each patient shall have and receive an individualized treatment plan in writing which the patient has had an opportunity to assist in preparing and to review prior to its implementation. The plan shall include a space for the patient’s comments.
(3) RIGHT TO EXPRESS AND INFORMED PATIENT CONSENT.—
(a)1. Each patient entering treatment shall be asked to give express and informed consent for admission or treatment. If the patient has been adjudicated incapacitated or found to be incompetent to consent to treatment, express and informed consent to treatment shall be sought instead from the patient’s guardian or guardian advocate. If the patient is a minor, express and informed consent for admission or treatment shall also be requested from the patient’s guardian. Express and informed consent for admission or treatment of a patient under 18 years of age shall be required from the patient’s guardian, unless the minor is seeking outpatient crisis intervention services under s. 394.4784. Express and informed consent for admission or treatment given by a patient who is under 18 years of age shall not be a condition of admission when the patient’s guardian gives express and informed consent for the patient’s admission pursuant to s. 394.463 or s. 394.467.
2. Before giving express and informed consent, the following information shall be provided and explained in plain language to the patient, or to the patient’s guardian if the patient is 18 years of age or older and has been adjudicated incapacitated, or to the patient’s guardian advocate if the patient has been found to be incompetent to consent to treatment, or to both the patient and the guardian if the patient is a minor: the reason for admission or treatment; the proposed treatment; the purpose of the treatment to be provided; the common risks, benefits, and side effects thereof; the specific dosage range for the medication, when applicable; alternative treatment modalities; the approximate length of care; the potential effects of stopping treatment; how treatment will be monitored; and that any consent given for treatment may be revoked orally or in writing before or during the treatment period by the patient or by a person who is legally authorized to make health care decisions on behalf of the patient.
(b) In the case of medical procedures requiring the use of a general anesthetic or electroconvulsive treatment, and prior to performing the procedure, express and informed consent shall be obtained from the patient if the patient is legally competent, from the guardian of a minor patient, from the guardian of a patient who has been adjudicated incapacitated, or from the guardian advocate of the patient if the guardian advocate has been given express court authority to consent to medical procedures or electroconvulsive treatment as provided under s. 394.4598.
(c) When the department is the legal guardian of a patient, or is the custodian of a patient whose physician is unwilling to perform a medical procedure, including an electroconvulsive treatment, based solely on the patient’s consent and whose guardian or guardian advocate is unknown or unlocatable, the court shall hold a hearing to determine the medical necessity of the medical procedure. The patient shall be physically present, unless the patient’s medical condition precludes such presence, represented by counsel, and provided the right and opportunity to be confronted with, and to cross-examine, all witnesses alleging the medical necessity of such procedure. In such proceedings, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence shall be on the party alleging the medical necessity of the procedure.
(d) The administrator of a receiving or treatment facility may, upon the recommendation of the patient’s attending physician, authorize emergency medical treatment, including a surgical procedure, if such treatment is deemed lifesaving, or if the situation threatens serious bodily harm to the patient, and permission of the patient or the patient’s guardian or guardian advocate cannot be obtained.
(4) QUALITY OF TREATMENT.—
(a) Each patient shall receive services, including, for a patient placed under s. 394.4655, those services included in the court order which are suited to his or her needs, and which shall be administered skillfully, safely, and humanely with full respect for the patient’s dignity and personal integrity. Each patient shall receive such medical, vocational, social, educational, and rehabilitative services as his or her condition requires in order to live successfully in the community. In order to achieve this goal, the department is directed to coordinate its mental health programs with all other programs of the department and other state agencies.
(b) Facilities shall develop and maintain, in a form accessible to and readily understandable by patients and consistent with rules adopted by the department, the following:
1. Criteria, procedures, and required staff training for any use of close or elevated levels of supervision, of restraint, seclusion, or isolation, or of emergency treatment orders, and for the use of bodily control and physical management techniques.
2. Procedures for documenting, monitoring, and requiring clinical review of all uses of the procedures described in subparagraph 1. and for documenting and requiring review of any incidents resulting in injury to patients.
3. A system for investigating, tracking, managing, and responding to complaints by persons receiving services or individuals acting on their behalf.
(c) A facility may not use seclusion or restraint for punishment, to compensate for inadequate staffing, or for the convenience of staff. Facilities shall ensure that all staff are made aware of these restrictions on the use of seclusion and restraint and shall make and maintain records which demonstrate that this information has been conveyed to individual staff members.
(5) COMMUNICATION, ABUSE REPORTING, AND VISITS.—
(a) Each person receiving services in a facility providing mental health services under this part has the right to communicate freely and privately with persons outside the facility unless a qualified professional determines that such communication is likely to be harmful to the person or others in a manner directly related to the person’s clinical well-being, the clinical well-being of other patients, or the general safety of staff. Each facility shall make available as soon as reasonably possible to persons receiving services a telephone that allows for free local calls and access to a long-distance service. A facility is not required to pay the costs of a patient’s long-distance calls. The telephone shall be readily accessible to the patient and shall be placed so that the patient may use it to communicate privately and confidentially. The facility may establish reasonable rules for the use of this telephone, provided that the rules do not interfere with a patient’s access to a telephone to report abuse pursuant to paragraph (f).
(b) Each patient admitted to a facility under the provisions of this part shall be allowed to receive, send, and mail sealed, unopened correspondence; and no patient’s incoming or outgoing correspondence shall be opened, delayed, held, or censored by the facility unless a qualified professional determines that such correspondence is likely to be harmful to the patient or others in a manner directly related to the patient’s clinical well-being, the clinical well-being of other patients, or the general safety of staff. If there is reason to believe that such correspondence contains items or substances which may be harmful to the patient or others, the administrator may direct reasonable examination of such mail and may regulate the disposition of such items or substances.
(c) Each facility must permit immediate access to any patient, subject to the patient’s right to deny or withdraw consent at any time, by the patient’s family members, guardian, guardian advocate, representative, Florida statewide or local advocacy council, or attorney, unless a qualified professional determines that such access would be detrimental to the patient in a manner directly related to the patient’s clinical well-being, the clinical well-being of other patients, or the general safety of staff.
(d) If a patient’s right to communicate with outside persons; receive, send, or mail sealed, unopened correspondence; or receive visitors is restricted by the facility, written notice of such restriction and the reasons for the restriction shall be served on the patient, the patient’s attorney, and the patient’s guardian, guardian advocate, or representative. A qualified professional must document any restriction within 24 hours, and such restriction shall be recorded on the patient’s clinical record with the reasons therefor. The restriction of a patient’s right to communicate or to receive visitors shall be reviewed at least every 3 days. The right to communicate or receive visitors shall not be restricted as a means of punishment. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to limit the provisions of paragraph (e).
(e) Each facility shall establish reasonable rules governing visitors, visiting hours, and the use of telephones by patients in the least restrictive possible manner. Patients shall have the right to contact and to receive communication from their attorneys at any reasonable time.
(f) Each patient receiving mental health treatment in any facility shall have ready access to a telephone in order to report an alleged abuse. The facility staff shall orally and in writing inform each patient of the procedure for reporting abuse and shall make every reasonable effort to present the information in a language the patient understands. A written copy of that procedure, including the telephone number of the central abuse hotline and reporting forms, shall be posted in plain view.
(g) The department shall adopt rules providing a procedure for reporting abuse. Facility staff shall be required, as a condition of employment, to become familiar with the requirements and procedures for the reporting of abuse.
(6) CARE AND CUSTODY OF PERSONAL EFFECTS OF PATIENTS.—A patient’s right to the possession of his or her clothing and personal effects shall be respected. The facility may take temporary custody of such effects when required for medical and safety reasons. A patient’s clothing and personal effects shall be inventoried upon their removal into temporary custody. Copies of this inventory shall be given to the patient and to the patient’s guardian, guardian advocate, or representative and shall be recorded in the patient’s clinical record. This inventory may be amended upon the request of the patient or the patient’s guardian, guardian advocate, or representative. The inventory and any amendments to it must be witnessed by two members of the facility staff and by the patient, if able. All of a patient’s clothing and personal effects held by the facility shall be returned to the patient immediately upon the discharge or transfer of the patient from the facility, unless such return would be detrimental to the patient. If personal effects are not returned to the patient, the reason must be documented in the clinical record along with the disposition of the clothing and personal effects, which may be given instead to the patient’s guardian, guardian advocate, or representative. As soon as practicable after an emergency transfer of a patient, the patient’s clothing and personal effects shall be transferred to the patient’s new location, together with a copy of the inventory and any amendments, unless an alternate plan is approved by the patient, if able, and by the patient’s guardian, guardian advocate, or representative.
(7) VOTING IN PUBLIC ELECTIONS.—A patient who is eligible to vote according to the laws of the state has the right to vote in the primary and general elections. The department shall establish rules to enable patients to obtain voter registration forms, applications for vote-by-mail ballots, and vote-by-mail ballots.
(8) HABEAS CORPUS.—
(a) At any time, and without notice, a person held in a receiving or treatment facility, or a relative, friend, guardian, guardian advocate, representative, or attorney, or the department, on behalf of such person, may petition for a writ of habeas corpus to question the cause and legality of such detention and request that the court order a return to the writ in accordance with chapter 79. Each patient held in a facility shall receive a written notice of the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
(b) At any time, and without notice, a person who is a patient in a receiving or treatment facility, or a relative, friend, guardian, guardian advocate, representative, or attorney, or the department, on behalf of such person, may file a petition in the circuit court in the county where the patient is being held alleging that the patient is being unjustly denied a right or privilege granted herein or that a procedure authorized herein is being abused. Upon the filing of such a petition, the court shall have the authority to conduct a judicial inquiry and to issue any order needed to correct an abuse of the provisions of this part.
(c) The administrator of any receiving or treatment facility receiving a petition under this subsection shall file the petition with the clerk of the court on the next court working day.
(d) No fee shall be charged for the filing of a petition under this subsection.
(9) VIOLATIONS.—The department shall report to the Agency for Health Care Administration any violation of the rights or privileges of patients, or of any procedures provided under this part, by any facility or professional licensed or regulated by the agency. The agency is authorized to impose any sanction authorized for violation of this part, based solely on the investigation and findings of the department.
(10) LIABILITY FOR VIOLATIONS.—Any person who violates or abuses any rights or privileges of patients provided by this part is liable for damages as determined by law. Any person who acts in good faith in compliance with the provisions of this part is immune from civil or criminal liability for his or her actions in connection with the admission, diagnosis, treatment, or discharge of a patient to or from a facility. However, this section does not relieve any person from liability if such person commits negligence.
(11) RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN TREATMENT AND DISCHARGE PLANNING.—The patient shall have the opportunity to participate in treatment and discharge planning and shall be notified in writing of his or her right, upon discharge from the facility, to seek treatment from the professional or agency of the patient’s choice.
(12) POSTING OF NOTICE OF RIGHTS OF PATIENTS.—Each facility shall post a notice listing and describing, in the language and terminology that the persons to whom the notice is addressed can understand, the rights provided in this section. This notice shall include a statement that provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act apply and the name and telephone number of a person to contact for further information. This notice shall be posted in a place readily accessible to patients and in a format easily seen by patients. This notice shall include the telephone numbers of the Florida local advocacy council and Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc.
History.—s. 5, ch. 71-131; s. 3, ch. 73-133; s. 25, ch. 73-334; s. 2, ch. 74-233; s. 202, ch. 77-147; s. 1, ch. 78-434; s. 12, ch. 79-3; s. 4, ch. 79-298; s. 10, ch. 79-320; s. 1, ch. 80-171; s. 7, ch. 82-212; s. 6, ch. 84-285; s. 27, ch. 85-167; s. 1, ch. 88-307; s. 16, ch. 88-398; s. 11, ch. 90-347; s. 1, ch. 91-170; s. 71, ch. 95-143; s. 706, ch. 95-148; s. 7, ch. 96-169; s. 210, ch. 96-406; s. 9, ch. 2000-263; s. 64, ch. 2000-349; s. 2, ch. 2004-385; s. 3, ch. 2005-65; s. 41, ch. 2016-37; s. 3, ch. 2022-36; s. 81, ch. 2023-8.