The Baker Act is the informal name for the Florida Mental Health Act (FS 394). It includes:
Patients who are able to give expressed and informed consent can be admitted as voluntary patients. These are individuals who make a knowing and willful decision for psychiatric treatment without any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, or another form of constraint or coercion.
A person can be taken to a receiving facility for an involuntary examination if there is reason to believe he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness has refused an exam or is unable to determine whether an exam is necessary. People can be “Baker Acted” if they are a serious danger to self or others, or if they are likely to suffer from neglect or harm if current behavior continues.
A certificate for an involuntary examination may be initiated by any one of the following:
If you anticipate a patient will be coming to Emerald Coast, please call ahead to alert the admissions staff. Staff will review clinical information and will get approval for the admission.
Within a few minutes, you will be notified if it is appropriate to transfer the patient to Emerald Coast or another facility. Remember, involuntary patients MUST go to the nearest receiving facility. Staff will be happy to assist you in getting the patient to the appropriate place for help.
The original BA52 form MUST accompany the patient. Before calling law enforcement to transport, call Emerald Coast for an approval to admit and then fax us the patient’s face sheet and BA52.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you should “Baker Act” someone. You want to be a responsible officer and do the right thing to protect individuals and those nearby, but you’re not sure whether to take a person to jail or to initiate the Baker Act and take the person to a receiving facility.
This guide has been developed by the Mental Health Coalition of Pinellas County to help you make that decision in the field. We have outlined some common behaviors of those in crisis and summarized things to be on the lookout for.
Behaviors to Look For
Individuals with mental illness who may need further evaluation typically exhibit a combination of the following behaviors, characteristics, or indicators of their illness:
NOTE: If you have any doubts, don’t forget to contact your CIT Officers (Crisis Intervention Training) or one of the receiving facilities.