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Overview of
The Florida Mental Health Act
(Baker Act)

Chapter 394 Part I, Florida Statutes
The information provided using this web site is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations.

(Refer to Law for Specifics)

(1) Voluntary Admission
(2) Involuntary Examination
(3) Patient Rights

(1) Voluntary Admission (FL Statute 394.4625)
An adult may apply for voluntary admission if found to show evidence of mental illness, to be competent to provide express and informed consent, and to be suitable for treatment.

A person is incompetent to consent to admission or treatment if his or her judgment is so affected by his or her mental illness that the person lacks the capacity to make a well reasoned, willful, and knowing decision concerning his or her medical or mental health treatment. If the person meets this definition, he or she must be examined under the involuntary provisions of the law.

Prior to giving consent to admission or treatment, the following information must be given to the patient or their substitute decision-maker:

  • the reason for admission;

  • the proposed treatment;

  • the purpose of the treatment to be provided;

  • the common side effects thereof;

  • alternative treatment modalities

  • the approximate length of care, and that any consent may be revoked prior to or during the treatment period.

Any person admitted on a voluntary basis must be evaluated within 24 hours after arrival at a receiving facility by a physician to document the person’s competence to provide express and informed consent for admission.


(2) Involuntary Examination (FL Statute 394.463)

A person may be taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination if there is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness: (1a) The person has refused voluntary examination after conscientious explanation and disclosure of the purpose of the examination; or

(1b) The person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary; and

(2a) Without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself; such neglect or refusal poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to his or her well-being; and it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services; or

(2b) There is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself or others in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.


(3) Patient Rights (FL Statute 394.459)

Individual Dignity: Ensures all constitutional rights and requires that persons be treated in a humane way while transported or treated for mental illness.

Treatment: Prohibits the delay or denial of treatment due to inability to pay and requires prompt physical examination after arrival; requires treatment planning to involve the patient; and requires the least restrictive appropriate available treatment be based on the individual needs of each patient.

Express and Informed Consent: Encourages people to voluntarily apply for mental health services when competent to do so, to choose their own treatment, and to decide when they want to stop treatment. The law requires that consent be voluntarily given in writing after sufficient explanation to enable the person to make a knowing and willful decision without any coercion.

Quality of Treatment Requires medical, vocational, social, educational, and rehabilitative services suited to each patient’s needs to be administered skillfully, safely, and humanely. Use of restraint, seclusion, isolation, emergency treatment orders, physical management techniques, and elevated levels of supervision are regulated. Complaint resolution is required.

Communication, Abuse Reporting, and Visits: Guarantees persons in mental health facilities the right to communicate freely and privately with persons outside the facilities by phone, mail, or visitation. If communication is restricted, written notice must be provided. No restriction of calls to the Abuse Registry or to the patient’s attorney is permitted under any circumstances.

Care and Custody of Personal Effects: Ensures that patients may keep their own clothing and personal effects, unless they are removed for safety or medical reasons. If removed, a witnessed inventory is provided.

Voting in Public Elections: Patients are guaranteed the right to register and to vote in any elections for which they qualify.

Habeas Corpus: Guarantees patient the right to ask the court to review the cause and legality of the patient’s detention or unjust denial of a legal right or privilege or an authorized procedure.

Treatment and Discharge Planning: Guarantees the opportunity to participate in treatment and discharge planning and to seek treatment from the professional or agency of patient’s choice upon discharge.

End of an Overview of
The Florida Mental Health Act (Baker Act)

Chapter 394 Part I, Florida Statutes
(Refer to Law for Specifics)

The information provided using this web site is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Please refer to appropriate agencies or organizations for more complete information.

The FKOC, a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, supports its programs through local, state and federal grants, foundations, and corporate and private donations.

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