Bring Ulysses To Florida: Proposed Legislative Relief for Mental Health Patients
16 Marq. Elder's Advisor 1 (2014)
83 Pages Posted: 22 May 2020
Date Written: 2014
This Article urges the Florida legislature to give patients the right to form Ulysses arrangements, which are a special type of mental health advance directive authorizing a doctor to administer treatment during a future episode even if the episode causes the patient to refuse treatment. Acute mental illness episodes may disrupt a patient’s capacity to provide informed consent and cause the patient to refuse necessary intervention. In Florida, a physician cannot involuntarily examine, hospitalize, or treat a person unless she meets strict criteria, essentially requiring the person’s behavior to reveal that she is dangerous to herself or others. Even a person exhibiting signs of psychosis and clearly in need of treatment may not meet such strict criteria. In such cases, intervention is postponed until the person becomes dangerous. In the meantime, the untreated episode may damage the person’s relationships, savings, employment, safety, and mental and physical health. This Article explores how Florida law deprives patients of the ability to form Ulysses arrangements. It proposes legislative relief for Florida’s mental health patients, which authorizes Ulysses arrangements. One novel component of this legislative relief provides patients the option to arrange for involuntary transportation to a hospital. Episodes which cause treatment refusals also cause patients to refuse transportation to a hospital. If a patient is unable to obtain transportation in contravention of refusals, she cannot secure intervention through her Ulysses arrangement.
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