HOUSE BILL NO. 854
AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1, 2, 3, 5 AND 6
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 51, TITLE 16, DELAWARE CODE BY ADDING A NEW SUBCHAPTER THERETO ESTABLISHING A BILL OF RIGHTS FOR PATIENTS IN HOSPITALS FOR THE MENTALLY ILL.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 51, Title 16, Delaware Code, by adding a new subchapter thereto to read as follows:
"SUBCHAPTER V. MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS'
BILL OF RIGHTS
§5161. Rights of patients in hospitals for the mentally ill
(a) Each patient confined pursuant to this chapter in the Delaware State Hospital or any other hospital as defined in Section 5522 (a) of Title 16 shall have the following rights, a list of which shall be prominently posted in English and Spanish in all facilities providing such services and otherwise brought to his attention by such additional means as the Department of Social Services shall determine by regulation:
(1) Each patient shall receive care and treatment suited to his needs and skillfully, safely and humanly administered with full respect for his dignity and personal integrity.
(2) The hospital shall require:
(A) careful reexamination and evaluation of each patient, to be conducted not less than every six (6) months;
(B) periodic physical examination of inpatients by a physician, to be conducted at least once a year;
(C) the order of a staff member operating within the scope of a professional authority for any treatment or therapy based upon appropriate examination;
(D) written informed consent by the patient or his guardian for surgery, electric shock treatment, major medical treatment in the nature of surgery, or the use of experimental drugs or procedures; and
(E) notation in the patient's clinical record of periodic examinations, individualized treatment programs, evaluations and reevaluations, orders for treatment and specific therapies, signed by the personnel involved.
(3) Each patient shall be entitled to communicate freely and privately with persons outside the facility as frequently as he wishes, consistent with the safety and welfare of other Patients and with avoiding serious harassment to others. Correspondence initiated to others by the patient shall be sent along promptly without being opened. The hospital shall establish procedures to insure patients full opportunity to conduct correspondence, have reasonable access to telephones, and have frequent and convenient opportunities to meet with visitors.
(4) A patient's right to retain his personal belongings shall be respected, except that the hospital may temporarily retain custody of personal property for the patient's protection, provided that such property is used or conserved for the support of the patient. The patient is entitled to a receipt for all personal property of which the hospital retains temporary custody. Any interest on monies received and held for a patient shall be the property of the patient and held by the hospital for the patient's benefit. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to relieve any patient from the obligations arising out of Section 5127 of this title.
(5) Each patient shall be entitled to participate in therapeutic, community care or release programs. It is recognized that work programs within the State institutions can be therapeutic, and the staff of such institutions shall develop suitable incentives for such programs. The provisions of the workmen's compensation law and the unemployment insurance law shall not apply to any patient engaged in such therapeutic programs.
(6) All children admitted as patients who but for their mental disability would be entitled to attend public schools, shall receive the same training and education that they would otherwise be entitled to receive in their local school districts. The hospital shall arrange for such training and education, which shall be consistent with the mental attainment of such children. If any patient is deaf, hard of hearing or blind, it shall be the duty of the hospital to arrange for suitable remedial efforts and equipment to overcome this handicap.
(7) A clinical record for each patient shall be maintained, and shall contain information on all matters relating to the admission, legal status, care and treatment of the patient and shall include all pertinent documents relating to the patient. The Division of Mental Health of the Department of Social Services shall, by regulation, determine the scope and method of recording information maintained in the clinical records, including data pertaining to admission, legal matters affecting the patient, records and notation of course of care and treatment, therapies, restrictions on the patient's rights, periodic examinations, and other information as the Division may require. The Division may require that statistical information about patients be reported to the Division, which information shall not contain names of patients.
No information reported to the Division and no clinical records maintained with respect to patients shall be public records, and such information shall not be released to any person or agency outside of the Division except as follows:
(i) pursuant to an order of a court of record;
(ii) to attorneys representing the patient;
() with the consent of the patient or someone authorized to act on his behalf;
(i) where the patient has been transferred to an institution outside of the Division of Mental Health.
(8) Nothing in this Act or in any rule or regulation adopted.pursuant thereto shall be construed to deny treatment by spiritual means through prayer for any person detained for evaluation or treatment who desires such treatment, or to a minor if his parent or guardian desires such treatment.
§5162. Enforcement of rights; Court of Chancery
The provisions of this subchapter shall be enforceable by the Attorney General or by any interested citizen. Within the meaning of this section, "interested citizen" shall include any individual, voluntary association of individuals or corporate body having a bona fide interest in furthering enforcement of the rights created by this subchapter. The Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware shall have jurisdiction over all actions to enforce the rights arising out of this subchapter.
Approved July 29, 1974.