PA 09-145—SB 754

Public Health Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING TECHNICAL CHANGES TO THE STATUTES REGARDING PERSONS WITH PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITIES AND PERSONS WITH SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

SUMMARY: This act makes several minor changes in the laws governing Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) operations. It:

1. repeals separate statutory authority for the superintendent of Blue Hills Hospital to regulate traffic on that facility's grounds;

2. allows the DMHAS commissioner to permit private physicians and psychiatrists to treat patients at DMHAS facilities, instead of requiring him to adopt regulations to permit such treatment; and

3. updates obsolete language describing patients, facilities and facility police, psychiatric conditions, substance abuse, and social workers.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009

TRAFFIC REGULATIONS

The law authorizes all DMHAS facility directors to regulate traffic on their facilities' grounds (CGS 17a-465). This act repeals separate statutory authority for the superintendent of Blue Hills Hospital to regulate traffic on that facility's grounds. It extends to all DMHAS police the immunity against criminal and civil liability for enforcing traffic regulations prior law gave to police at Blue Hills Hospital. Repealing the specific Blue Hills Hospital statute effectively eliminates:

1. the immunity prior law gave that hospital's staff from confidentiality violations for reporting traffic violations;

2. the penalty for falsely reporting traffic violations at the hospital, which was up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both; and

3. the requirement that court records of traffic cases be sealed and available only to the respondent unless the court permits disclosure.

The law does not specifically extend these traffic-related immunities or penalties to other DMHAS facilities, but another statute immunizes state employees against civil liability for damage or injury caused in the scope of their employment or by the discharge of their duties as long as it is not wanton, reckless, or malicious (CGS 4-165).

COMMITMENT REVIEW

The act eliminates the ability of the DMHAS and Department of Children and Families (DCF) commissioners and any interested person to ask the court that committed an adult or juvenile to a “humane institution” to revoke or modify the commitment. The law continues to allow them to do this for people committed to a state psychiatric hospital, and the act specifies they may do this for children committed to child-care facilities. The law the act affects does not define a humane institution, but a statute that concerns medical assistance payments defines it as a state psychiatric hospital, community mental health center, treatment facility for children or adolescents, or any facility or program administered by DMHAS, DCF, or the Department of Developmental Services (CGS 17b-222).

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