Ohio bill codifies changes to reporting requirements for hospitals related to defendant competency issues in criminal cases

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Senate Bill 2, signed by Ohio Governor DeWine on April 27, 2021, makes various changes to criminal law regarding competency issues of defendants in criminal cases. Several of the revisions impact hospitals, including the imposition of new reporting requirements in certain situations.

Revised Code 5122.03 sets forth procedures by which a patient voluntarily admitted to a hospital for mental health services may obtain release subject to limited exceptions.  The bill adds an exception for a patient who was, within the past twelve months, a defendant found incompetent to stand trial under Revised Code 2945.38(B)(1)(a)(v)(I).  Under the new law, when such a voluntarily-admitted patient requests release and the patient is not otherwise subject to an exception, the chief clinical officer of the hospital must immediately notify the trial court or prosecutor of the intent to release the patient. Not later than three court days after being notified of the intent to release, the trial court or prosecutor may file or cause to be filed with the court of the county where the patient is hospitalized, or the court of the county where the patient resides, an affidavit under Revised Code 5122.11. If such an affidavit is filed, the patient's release must be postponed until a hearing under Revised Code 5122.141 is held.

The bill also modifies Revised Code 5122.02, regarding the procedures that a hospital chief clinical officer must take with respect to certain individuals who are undergoing mental health treatment on a voluntary basis. Current law provides that a chief clinical officer may discharge a voluntary patient who refuses to accept treatment consistent with his or her written treatment plan. Under the new law, additional requirements are imposed if the patient is an individual for whom a trial court or prosecutor had, within the past twelve months, filed an affidavit in probate court pursuant to Revised Code 2945.38(B)(1)(a)(v)(I). When the chief clinical officer has knowledge of such a patient's prior status, prior to discharge (when due to a refusal to accept treatment consistent with his or her written treatment plan), the chief clinical officer must notify the trial court or prosecutor of the intent to discharge. Not later than three court days after being notified of the intent to discharge, the trial court or prosecutor may file or cause to be filed with the court of the county where the patient is hospitalized, or the court of the county where the patient resides, an affidavit under Revised Code 5122. If such an affidavit is filed, the patient's discharge must be postponed until a hearing under Revised Code 5122.141 is held.

In preparation for the new law to go into effect on July 26, 2021, hospitals should educate their staff on these new procedures related to the discharge of patients receiving mental health services.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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