Involuntary Emergency Commitment
A person may be committed for emergency admission upon:
- Written affidavit under oath by a person stating a belief that the person is mentally ill and because of his condition is likely to seriously harm himself or others if not immediately hospitalized. The affidavit must state the specific type of serious harm thought probable if the person is not immediately hospitalized and the factual basis for the belief;
- Certification of a licensed physician, stating that the physician has examined the person and is of the opinion that the person is mentally ill, and consequently, is likely to seriously harm himself or others if not immediately hospitalized.
If the person is unwilling to be examined by a licensed physician, you must contact the mental health center for the county in which the patient is then present to start the involuntary commitment process. South Carolina state law requires that a mental health counselor initially screen all mental health emergencies. The Lexington County Community Mental Health Center is located behind Lexington Medical Center at:
301 Palmetto Park Boulevard
Lexington, SC 29072
Telephone: (803) 359-3545
If the person is a minor, you must contact the Office of Child, Adolescence and Families of the Lexington County Community Mental Health Center at:
204 Palmetto Park Boulevard
Lexington, SC 29072
Telephone: (803) 359-7206
If an emergency occurs during non-business hours, emergency counselors may be reached by calling (803) 739-8600.
If a mental health emergency counselor determines that the patient qualifies for an Examination for Emergency Admission by a licensed physician, the counselor will contact the Probate Court for an Order of Detention.
When an Order of Detention is issued it is delivered to the appropriate law enforcement agency, they will pick up and transport the patient to a physician. The Certificate of Licensed Physician is the legal document that actually orders the involuntary treatment to begin.
If the physician orders treatment in the Certificate of Licensed Physician, the patient is transported by law enforcement to a facility for treatment.
The patient will be assigned an attorney by the Probate Court for representation of the patient at a hearing to be conducted within 15 days (20 days for chemical dependency). The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether further inpatient treatment is necessary, whether the person can be released to involuntary or voluntary outpatient treatment, or whether the patient is ready to be released from treatment.
There are special rules for child patients. A child can receive treatment upon the consent of the legal custodian. If a child will not cooperate with the parent or legal custodian in obtaining treatment, the same procedures outlined above must be followed.