53-21-142. Rights of persons admitted to facility. Patients admitted to a mental health facility, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, have the following rights:
(1) Patients have a right to privacy and dignity.
(2) Patients have a right to the least restrictive conditions necessary to achieve the purposes of commitment. Patients must be accorded the right to appropriate treatment and related services in a setting and under conditions that:
(a) are the most supportive of the patient's personal liberty; and
(b) restrict the patient's liberty only to the extent necessary and consistent with the patient's treatment need, applicable requirements of law, and judicial orders.
(3) Patients have rights to visitation and reasonable access to telephone communications, including the right to converse with others privately, except to the extent that the professional person responsible for formulation of a particular patient's treatment plan writes an order imposing special restrictions. The written order must be renewed after each periodic review of the treatment plan if any restrictions are to be continued. Patients have an unrestricted right to visitation with attorneys, with spiritual counselors, and with private physicians and other professional persons.
(4) Patients have an unrestricted right to send sealed mail. Patients have an unrestricted right to receive sealed mail from their attorneys, private physicians and other professional persons, the mental disabilities board of visitors, courts, and government officials. Patients have a right to receive sealed mail from others except to the extent that a professional person responsible for formulation of a particular patient's treatment plan writes an order imposing special restrictions on receipt of sealed mail. The written order must be renewed after each periodic review of the treatment plan if any restrictions are to be continued.
(5) Patients have an unrestricted right to have access to letter-writing materials, including postage, and have a right to have staff members of the facility assist persons who are unable to write, prepare, and mail correspondence.
(6) Patients have a right to wear their own clothes and to keep and use their own personal possessions, including toilet articles, except to the extent that clothes or personal possessions may be determined by a professional person in charge of the patient's treatment plan to be dangerous or otherwise inappropriate to the treatment regimen. The facility has an obligation to supply an adequate allowance of clothing to any patients who do not have suitable clothing of their own. Patients must have the opportunity to select from various types of neat, clean, and seasonable clothing. The clothing must be considered the patient's throughout the patient's stay at the facility. The facility shall make provision for the laundering of patient clothing.
(7) Patients have the right to keep and be allowed to spend a reasonable sum of their own money.
(8) Patients have the right to religious worship. Provisions for worship must be made available to all patients on a nondiscriminatory basis. An individual may not be required to engage in any religious activities.
(9) Patients have a right to regular physical exercise several times a week. The facility shall provide facilities and equipment for physical exercise. Patients have a right to be outdoors at regular and frequent intervals in the absence of contrary medical considerations.
(10) Patients have the right to be provided, with adequate supervision, suitable opportunities for interaction with members of the opposite sex except to the extent that a professional person in charge of the patient's treatment plan writes an order stating that the interaction is inappropriate to the treatment regimen.
(11) Patients have a right to receive prompt and adequate medical treatment for any physical ailments. In providing medical care, the mental health facility shall take advantage of whatever community-based facilities are appropriate and available and shall coordinate the patient's treatment for mental illness with the patient's medical treatment.
(12) Patients have a right to a diet that will provide at a minimum the recommended daily dietary allowances as developed by the national academy of sciences. Provisions must be made for special therapeutic diets and for substitutes at the request of the patient or the friend of respondent in accordance with the religious requirements of any patient's faith. Denial of a nutritionally adequate diet may not be used as punishment.
(13) Patients have a right to a humane psychological and physical environment within the mental health facilities. These facilities must be designed to afford patients with comfort and safety, promote dignity, and ensure privacy. The facilities must be designed to make a positive contribution to the efficient attainment of the treatment goals set for the patient. In order to ensure the accomplishment of this goal:
(a) regular housekeeping and maintenance procedures that will ensure that the facility is maintained in a safe, clean, and attractive condition must be developed and implemented;
(b) there must be special provision made for geriatric and other nonambulatory patients to ensure their safety and comfort, including special fittings on toilets and wheelchairs. Appropriate provision must be made to permit nonambulatory patients to communicate their needs to the facility staff.
(c) pursuant to an established routine maintenance and repair program, the physical plant of each facility must be kept in a continuous state of good repair and operation in accordance with the needs of the health, comfort, safety, and well-being of the patients;
(d) each facility must meet all fire and safety standards established by the state and locality. In addition, any hospital must meet the provisions of the life safety code of the national fire protection association that are applicable to hospitals. A hospital must meet all standards established by the state for general hospitals to the extent that they are relevant to psychiatric facilities.
(14) A patient at a facility has the right:
(a) to be informed of the rights described in this section at the time of admission and periodically after admission in language and terms appropriate to the patient's condition and ability to understand;
(b) to assert grievances with respect to infringement of the rights described in this section, including the right to have a grievance considered in a fair and timely manner according to an impartial grievance procedure that must be provided for by the facility; and
(c) to exercise the rights described in this section without reprisal and may not be denied admission to the facility as reprisal for the exercise of the rights described in this section.
(15) In order to assist a person admitted to a program or facility in the exercise or protection of the patient's rights, the patient's attorney, advocate, or legal representatives must be given reasonable access to:
(a) the patient;
(b) the program or facility areas where the patient has received treatment or has resided or the areas to which the patient has had access; and
(c) pursuant to the written authorization of the patient, records and information pertaining to the patient's diagnosis, treatment, and related services.
(16) A person admitted to a facility must be given access to any available individual or service that provides advocacy for the protection of the person's rights and that assists the person in understanding, exercising, and protecting the person's rights as described in this section.
(17) This section may not:
(a) obligate a professional person to administer treatment contrary to the professional's clinical judgment;
(b) prevent a facility from discharging a patient for whom appropriate treatment, consistent with the clinical judgment of a professional person responsible for the patient's treatment, is or has become impossible to administer because of the patient's refusal to consent to the treatment;
(c) require a facility to admit a person who has, on prior occasions, repeatedly withheld consent to appropriate treatment; or
(d) obligate a facility to treat a person admitted to the facility solely for diagnostic evaluation.
History: En. 38-1317 by Sec. 17, Ch. 466, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 38-1317; amd. Sec. 14, Ch. 547, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 579, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 1919, Ch. 56, L. 2009.