Questions Answered: What is the Baker Act?

Here's a post from a nursing home family member stating they were "Baker Acted" by the Nursing Facility where their father lives and I was curious about this obscure reference. As it turns out the Baker Act is specific to Florida, but in general the term refers to "patient dumping" at behavioral hospitals. The discharge of residents with behaviors to treatment facilities is an ongoing hot topic, as mentioned in this earlier post.

The Baker Act was passed in Florida in 1972 and has undergone a number of amendments, most significantly in 1996, when greater protections were extended to voluntary admissions as it related to transfer and discharge.

The intent of the Baker Act is to prohibit the indiscriminate long term admission of persons to an institution without just cause. Before 1972, a person could be permanently placed in a State Hospital if three people signed affidavits and received approval by a County judge. A Baker Act can be voluntary or involuntary; the emphasis is on community based evaluation and treatment.

An involuntary Baker Act is placed for a psychiatric evaluation if someone feels it is necessary; this person must be evaluated by both community professionals within 72 hours to determine appropriate placement, which must include an order from a judge.

For more information on the Florida Baker Act, click here.

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