Governor says bill protects patients’ rights

Published 11:46 am Tuesday, January 4, 2005

By Staff
LANSING - Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today signed new laws formalizing the role of mental health patient advocates, giving individuals greater autonomy to determine the course of their mental health treatment.
Senate Bills 1464-1472 amend the State's Mental Health Code and allow individuals to create Psychiatric Advance Directives - or statements regarding the patient's desire for mental health treatment. Under the law, mental health professionals would have to comply with the patient advocate directives unless treatment is not consistent with generally accepted mental health best practices.
The bills also allow the patient to waive the right to revoke a patient advocate designation for 30 days and allow the advocate to make mental health treatment decisions only if both a physician and a mental health practitioner have examined the patient and certify, in writing, that the patient is incapable of making decisions on their own behalf.
Historically, decisions made by mental health patient advocates have not been widely accepted by mental health service providers, including inpatient psychiatric programs. This activity has placed undue strain on the courts system and has resulted in unnecessary and restrictive court appointment of guardians, Granholm said.
This new legislation formalizes the role of patient advocate for those who are mentally ill and sets guidelines for mental health practitioners to follow when advocates are appointed. Mental health services received from the private sector also are bound by these designations.
All of the bills passed both the State House and State Senate unanimously.