Monday, October 4, 2010

Section 12 UPDATE

Hello Again,
This past legislative  session, one of NASW’s priority pieces of legislation House Bill 4681, an Act to Improve Emergency Access to Mental Health Services was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Patrick.  Beginning November 3, 2010, LICSWs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will be authorized to sign a Section 12 A or temporary care paper, colloquially known as a “pink paper”. This will enable LICSW level social workers to hold or send a patient for emergency evaluation for the following reasons:

§       Suicidality - Substantial risk of physical harm to the person himself/herself as manifested by evidence of threats of, or attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm.                       
§      Homicidality - Substantial risk of physical harm to other persons as manifested by evidence of homicidal or other violent behavior or evidence that others are placed in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm to themselves.

§       Markedly impaired judgment due to mental illness - Very substantial risk of physical impairment or injury to the person himself/herself as manifested by evidence that such person’s judgment is so affected that he/she is unable to protect himself/herself in the community and the reasonable provision of his/her protection is not available in the community.

LICSW level social workers have for years been evaluating clients for dangerousness.   They just did not have the authority to sign the paper work that would authorize the patient being transerred to a hospital emergency room for an evaluation. These same LICSWs had to run around looking for a psychiatrist or psychologist or police officer (who had never seen the client) to sign the paper to transport the individual.  House Bill 4681 aligns the law with their practice and authority.

The Chapter is in the process of developing training to help Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers make the transition to authorization.  It is important that NASW has your email address so that you will be notified of the dates of the trainings which will begin in November.  Please call  1-800-742-4089 or email .

Carol Trust

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