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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Psychiatric Evaluations in an ER

Question: I live in the state of Ca, My brother is 50 and still living at home with mom. His health is failing, the doctor's will not tell us what is going on, he will pass out and then it is another trip to the hospital. He weighs 250 lbs. and my mother can't help him up after 10 min. of uncon. The doctor's will not let us what is wrong and he WILL NOT!!! Is there a site I can go to get him committed I know he has mental problems???

Click on comments to read Laura's advice.


Eleventh Hour LLC said...

Dear Ray,
Under the privacy laws, your brother does not have to tell you anything about his condition. And the doctors and nurses can't tell you anything unless your brother gives them written permission to speak with you. That's the law. However, as his caregivers, you can argue that you need to know or you can't care for him. How you can go about this is to first try and present it that way to your brother by saying something like, "It's hard helping you if we don't know what kind of help you need." See if he is able to share what's going on. If not, and this may sound harsh, but you need to bring him to the emergency room and ask for a psychiatric evaluation. You would need to say something like, "I'm worried about my brother, he has a medical condition that me and my mother don't know about, and when he falls, we can't help him, we can't take care of him anymore and he can't take care of himself. We are very worried about his safety and our own safety. He can't stay with my mother anymore." I know that sounds mean, but he may need to be in a nursing home at this point. He needs a level of care that you and your mother can't provide. The psychiatric evaluation will determine if he is gravely disabled. If it is determined that he is gravely disabled (physically and/or mentally), then he will be admitted to the hospital. Even if the ER clinician determines he is not gravely disabled, if you refuse to take him home, the hospital will have to place him where he will be appropriately cared for. I know how hard that is for families. It may feel like you are abandoning your brother, but really you are helping him get the right kind of care. Good luck and let us know what happens.

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