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Patient Rights

Voluntary Hospitalization

If you admit yourself on a conditional voluntary basis and wish to leave, you must notify the hospital in writing. The hospital then has three business days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) in which to discharge you or petition the district court for your civil commitment.

Three-Day Involuntary Hospitalization Under Section 12(b)

Before being admitted for a three-day involuntary hospitalization in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws, you must be given the opportunity to choose conditional voluntary status. The involuntary hospitalization expires after three business days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) unless the hospital petitions the district court for your commitment. A hearing will then be conducted within five business days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) following the hospital’s petition to the court.

If you have been involuntarily hospitalized under Section 12(b), the hospital is required upon your request to contact the Committee for Public Counsel and a lawyer will be appointed to meet with you.

If you have been involuntarily hospitalized under Section 12(b) and have reason to believe that the admission is the result of an abuse or misuse of the Section 12(b) admission process, you may request that an emergency hearing be held within 24 hours. The hospital will provide you or your attorney with a form to make this request.

Court Commitment

If the hospital petitions the court for your commitment, you may be required to stay at the hospital until a judge makes a decision to commit or discharge you. The court will appoint a lawyer for you.

Right to Appeal Your Commitment

If the judge has ordered you to be involuntarily committed and you believe you should no longer be hospitalized, you have the right to appeal the commitment. To ask questions about your legal status at the hospital, contact McLean’s civil rights officer in Belmont at 617.855.3406 or in Middleborough at 774.419.1015. Additionally, you may contact a legal advocate or your attorney as discussed below.