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Summary: HB 1739 seeks to protect clients in residential care facilities from unnecessary administrations of psychoactive medications (medication), but provides procedures and stringent requirements for physicians and courts who seek to authorize medication for clients in residential care facilities who do not consent to such medication.
HB 1739 stipulates medications cannot be administered to clients refusing medication in voluntary or involuntary care services except in medical-related emergencies, when a client’s legal representative consents, or when a court orders medication. Physicians must file applications with probate courts stating, among other things, that the physician believes the client lacks capacity to make a medication decision for themselves and why they chose a certain medication. Those treating clients must give information about a medication’s effects, and why alternative medications are not to be used. Physicians must also adhere to stringent documentation requirements when prescribing medication without consent.
Clients are given certain rights when dealing with non-consensual medication, such as attorney representation, a copy of a physician’s application for non-consensual medication, and to hear a court’s determination of a client’s capacity to decide on medication and why non-consensual medication is or is not in a client’s best interest at the end of a hearing.
Courts can order medication under certain circumstances, particularly when a client presents a danger to himself or others in the correctional facility as a result of a mental disorder or mental defects. Courts must consider whether a treatment is in a client’s best interest and consider several other things, such as a client’s religious beliefs. Hearings must be on record with a probate judge or certain delegated judges and clients can appeal decisions and are entitled to a written report of the court’s determinations, including the court’s reasoning and evidence.
Orders expire on the anniversary of the date an order was issued. An order issued for a defendant awaiting trial expires on the date the person is acquitted, convicted, or enters a guilty plea, or on the date charges are dismissed, and orders shall be reviewed every six months by the issuing court.
Analysis: HB 1739 is a bill that promotes the individual liberty of people to be free from unnecessary psychoactive medications while preserving certain exceptions that allow doctors and courts to administer these medications without consent under specific emergency circumstances. These exceptions are limited and courts and physicians must document their decision making processes. HB 1739 also provides due process for clients to appeal medication decisions, and requires courts and physicians to consider all other alternatives prior to applying for authorization to administer psychoactive medications without a client's consent.
The ability of courts and physicians to force any person to take psychoactive medication is a dangerous power that can be abused. HB 1739 provides some assurance that this power will not be abused and that due process rights will be observed in the administration of psychoactive medications. We encourage legislators to support HB 1739