Communicating with Hospitals and Mental Health Professionals

If your relative/friend has been hospitalized . . .

Naturally, you are concerned and have an understandable desire for information. You may also have helpful information to share. In fact, it is likely that no one knows the situation like you do.

If the patient is 18 or over, confidentiality laws protect his/her right to privacy. This means that your relative, partner or friend must authorize the treatment facility to contact or disclose information to you before they are allowed to involve you in these ways. A separate Release of Confidential Information form must be signed for each admission, and for each individual seeking to be involved in the care. Ask your loved one if they will add you to their list of individuals authorized to speak to their providers. Staff at the nurse’s station have this form in your loved one’s files.

YOU CAN GIVE INFORMATION, EVEN IF YOU CAN’T RECEIVE IT

AB 1424 is a California law requiring that relevant information provided by the patient’s family about the historical course of a patient’s mental disorder be considered in the legal process when determining whether probable cause exists to involuntarily detain a person for up to 72-hour for evaluation and treatment or for up to 14 days of additional treatment.

Filling out the AB 1424 form developed for use in Alameda County is the best way to assure that your particular, personal understanding of your loved one’s situation can be considered. Alameda County’s AB 1424 Form is available on-line at www.acbhcs.org>AB1424-form.

If feasible, you should fill out the form in advance, keep the information current and have extra copies on hand. If the police or other professionals are called to determine if your family member shall be detained and treated involuntarily (“5150”), give a copy of the AB 1424 form to them to take to Psychiatric Emergency Services. You also can deliver or fax the form.

Confidentiality is often a barrier issue for family members of adults as you try to help your loved one. The AB1424 Form can help by putting a medical history as only you know it in the hands of professional care providers. The care providers would not know this material without your input. For you to hear the facts about your adult loved one’s case requires that he/she sign a release of information. The release form given here is a sample form that might be recognized by an institution, though most prefer their own form. Release forms can specify particular information and dates when it is in force.