Publisher’s Note: A look at House Bill 9: Involuntary examinations under the Baker Act

As I’m writing this, the 2013 Legislative Session at our state’s capitol is still underway, but will soon be coming to a close. During this process, several notable bills to our healthcare system will potentially be passed. One of the simple, but notable bills is one that will allow physician assistants (PAs) & advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) to initiate involuntary examinations under the Baker Act of persons believed to have mental illness.

To clarify, certain medical personnel are authorized to issue a certificate in order to have a person involuntary examined and protected when he or she exhibits life threatening behavior toward self or others. At present, the following professionals are able to issue a certificate of this nature: social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists, and physicians. However, ARNPs and PAs are oftentimes the only providers in rural or underserved clinics and are educated and obligated to perform mental health evaluations for individuals with suicidal or homicidal intention.

Currently, if there is no authorized personnel present, then the ARNP or PA must contact law enforcement. House Bill 9 proposes authorizing ARNPs and PAs to issue a certificate when needed. This is just one of the many health-related bills being presented during our Legislative Session, and I encourage you to stay informed on all legislation presented and passed. For more information on these and other bills, visit



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