Emergency Rulemaking Amends Single-Bed Certification Rules

On September 18, 2014, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”) amended its rules regarding single bed certifications for psychiatric patients, publicized in this  Rule Making Order.  The new rules were issued in response to the recent Washington State Supreme Court decision regarding psychiatric boarding which declared the use of single bed certifications to detain involuntary mental health patient at non-certified evaluation and treatment facilities unlawful.   The amended rules made two key changes impacting hospitals and other non-certified facilities where single bed certification is sought.

First, the facility that is the site of the proposed single bed certification must confirm that it is willing to provide treatment to the consumer suffering from the mental disorder for whom the single bed certification is sought.  This revision now gives facilities a role in the issuance of single bed certifications.

Second, the amended rules expanded the available criteria to support the single bed certification.  In addition to criteria available under the prior rule, criteria to support the issuance of a single bed certification now includes that the patient can receive appropriate evaluation and treatment in a residential treatment facility, a hospital with a psychiatric unit, a hospital that can provide psychiatric services, or a psychiatric hospital.

While the amended rules expands the opportunity for ITA patients to receive necessary services at non-certification evaluation and treatment facilities, the practical effect of actually providing services to ITA patients remains to be seen.  For example, hospitals and other facilities may be hesitant to confirm their willingness to provide treatment in order for the single bed certification to be issued.  Ambiguity also exists regarding the treatment to be provided under a single bed certification.

The amended rules went into effect September 18, 2014.  It is expected that DSHS will issue new final rules to be effective when the Washington State Supreme Court’s 120-day stay on its decision expires on December 26, 2014.

For more information about Washington’s Involuntary Treatment Act or mental health services, please contact Lee Kuo.