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Treatment of Minors – N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 22.11

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Treatment of minors seeking treatment for chemical dependency

This law addresses the treatment of minors (defined as unmarried persons under 18 years of age who are not emancipated and are not parents of children themselves) for chemical dependence, whether on an inpatient, outpatient or residential basis.  The law emphasizes the importance of involving and obtaining consent from the parents and guardians of the minors seeking treatment.  However, the law does carve out some exceptions where minors may be treated without parent/guardian involvement or consent:

1)    If the physician determines that seeking such involvement and consent would have a detrimental effect on the course of the treatment of a minor voluntarily seeking treatment, or if the parent/guardian refuses treatment against the physician’s opinion that treatment would be in the best interests of the child.  The physician (or a qualified health professional in the absence of a physician in the facility) must document the reasons why they dispensed of the parental/guardian involvement and consent requirement;

2)     If, after employing reasonable measures, the provider of services (provider) cannot locate the parents or guardians of a minor seeking treatment, or if parents or guardians refuse or fail to communicate with the provider of services within a reasonable time regarding the minor’s treatment.  The program director can authorize the treatment of such a minor, and has to fully document the reasons why they dispensed of the parental/guardian involvement and consent requirement;

The law further specifies the admission and discharge procedures with respect to inpatient or residential treatment of minors, and asks providers to provide the minors and, if applicable, the consenting parents/guardians and emergency contact with a copy of the facility’s admission and discharge procedures:

1)    Admission procedure requirements:  During the time of admission, the director of the facility (or his/her designee) is required to provide a copy of the patient’s rights (as established under this section and under section 22.03, which states that patients seeking help for chemical dependence do not forfeit any rights as citizens of US or NY, that their participation will not be used against them in a legal proceeding, and that the director of the facility will provide written notice of these patient rights) and explain them to the minor and to the minor’s parent or guardian.  The minor is required to sign a form indicating that treatment is being sought voluntarily, and that he or she has been advised of his or her ability to access the mental hygiene legal service for legal counsel upon request, and of his or her rights in general.  This signed form should then be included in the minor’s medical record.  The director of the facility (or his/her designee) must inform the minor, both orally and in writing, that the minor has a right to be discharged in accordance with this section of the law within 24 hours of his or her making a request.  The law further requires that the provider make reasonable effort to identify and obtain emergency contact information for the patient at the time of admission.

2)    Discharge procedure requirements:  Minors have the right to be discharged within 24 hours of his or her request.  If the minor requests discharge before the end of the treatment plan, the request for discharge must be in writing; when the director receives such a written request, he/she must contact minor’s parent or guardian, unless the minor was admitted without their consent (as detailed above) or their emergency contact.  A minor may not be discharged from the facility until 24 hours have passed after receipt of request or it is determined that the well-being of the minor will not be threatened and that parent/guardian/emergency contact has made appropriate departure arrangements, whichever is sooner.  The law requires that the facility make writing materials available at all times to minors who wish to make such a request, and that the staff assist in preparing or submitting request.

Current as of June 2015