Lecture – Review of the Law & Psychiatry

Available with English captions.

Presented by Diane M. Geraghty Hall, Esq., Geraghty Hall & Ready, LLP – Visiting Scholars Series lecture

In this lecture, Geraghty Hall, an attorney with expertise in mental health law, discusses a range of legal issues that affect mental health professionals.

Specifically, she highlights changes to mental health laws and regulations made by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH). These changes include revisions to Section 12, which allows for involuntary care at a mental health care facility. Geraghty Hall also discusses guardianships, health care proxies, and recent changes to DMH regulations governing inpatient facilities.

Throughout the presentation, Geraghty Hall takes questions from the audience and explains how the recent changes impact day-to-day clinical work.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • The pros and cons of completing medical certificates for guardianships
  • Health care proxies and how they can be helpful in treating patients
  • Recent changes to DMH regulations

Regarding Section 12, Geraghty Hall reports that DMH now allows licensed independent social workers to issue a section 12A. Currently, the list of individuals who can admit a patient to an inpatient facility includes most health care professionals, such as any licensed physician, nurse practitioners who specialize in the mental health field, and licensed psychologists. Police officers are also allowed to issue a section 12A.

Geraghty Hall also outlines DMH changes regarding health care proxies and guardianships. She reports that the agency has made several revisions to its guardianship policies, including expiration dates for temporary guardianships and admission authority of guardians. She explains issues surrounding informed consent, discharge regulations, and relevant paperwork for guardians.

In addition, she details regulations for health care proxies. Increasingly, she points out, individuals with mental health issues are using health care proxies to manage treatment decisions. Unlike guardianships, she explains, health care proxies, once activated, can allow a person to be admitted to a psychiatric facility. Also, activated health care proxies are irrevocable, which places limits on patients.

Finally, Geraghty Hall explains that DMH recently reviewed its language and regulations to update several outdated concepts. For example, DMH has replaced the word “competency” with “capacity.” DMH has also redefined its mission statement to better define the department’s responsibilities in the community. This statement, she reports, reflects a shift in DMH’s focus from actual delivery of care to more of an “oversight and policy-driven role.”