Involuntary Holds: Gharibian Law Weighs In

Often, the rights of nursing home residents are violated because of a lack of knowledge. Either the resident doesn’t understand their rights, their loved ones don’t understand resident rights, or both parties are purposefully misled. Within the nursing home industry, specifically regarding resident evictions, administrators often offer misleading information, claiming involuntary holds as a basis for eviction. Unfortunately, this disproportionally effects residents who are not considered financially lucrative. This is a persistent issue that will hopefully be addressed soon. In the meantime, Gharibian Law’s Amber Tham and Destiny Verdugo had a chance to weigh in on the issue, and provide some insight.

PC: Bruno Aguirre via Unsplash

Involuntary Holds

Typically, involuntary holds are used for those deemed a potential danger to themselves or others and are used in mental health facilities to help those with mental illness find help, recovery, and a safe place to be monitored. These holds, commonly called a 5150-hold, are only meant to be enforced for 72 hours and pertain to the following:

  1. The adult has a mental health disorder;
  2. The disorder causes them to be a danger to themselves or others, or otherwise causes them to be gravely disabled; and
  3. A peace officer or professional person finds the above with probable cause.

Essentially, this law was meant to help individuals with mental health disorders, keep certain individuals safe, and prevent individuals from being held indefinitely. It is a good law. However, when it comes to nursing homes, it is being used as a loophole for facilities to discharge residents illegally under the pretense of those residents being “involuntarily held”. Effectively dumping residents with nowhere else to go.

Gharibian Law Weighs In

Amber Tham, Esq. and Destiny Verdugo, Esq. wrote an article for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform’s (CANHR) Legal Network News outlining the illegality of utilizing the 5150-hold laws to evict nursing home residents.

Firstly, they point out that nursing homes often use a compliant physician to sign off on the eviction. However, the 5150-hold laws “must be either in charge of a county-approved treatment facility or “LPS designated” by a specific county agency.” Not every physician is authorized to make this legal judgment. In most cases, however, the physician will cite medical judgment regarding this decision in order to circumvent liability for using the involuntary hold laws as grounds for eviction. Unfortunately for them, using their medical judgment to illegally evict residents using involuntary holds as an excuse can qualify as medical malpractice

“A false 5150-hold not only unnecessarily incurs medical bills but severe emotional distress. These residents are taken from their home without warning or explanation. They may be restrained and falsely imprisoned in a hospital setting for three days.”

Amber M. Tham, Esq. & Destiny M. Verdugo, Esq., “Illegal Involuntary Holds”

“Abuse of an involuntary hold not only violates the resident’s rights; it demonstrates outrageous conduct with intent to cause extreme, emotional distress. (McDaniel v. Gile (1991) 230 Cal. App.3d 363, 372 [conduct may be deemed extreme and outrageous if the defendant knew the plaintiff was peculiarly susceptible to emotional distress due to mental or physical disability].)

Amber M. Tham, Esq. & Destiny M. Verdugo, Esq., “Illegal Involuntary Holds”

Read the full article here.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of abuse or medical malpractice, call Gharibian Law (877-460-1187) today for a FREE consultation and the best legal representation.