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Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

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  • Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

    If any of you listen to the Opie and Anthony show on XM or FM in the mornings, you'll probably know about this already. If you dont, i'll preface by saying that Opie and Anthony are radio personalities who broadcast a comedy talk radio show with various comedians and celebrity guests weekdays from 6am-12pm. they're fairly big in the radio business and were on letterman a couple weeks ago. Theyre also from new york, which was their starting radio market and their names and faces are plastered all over buses in the city, so theyre very well known.

    Heres the story:
    Anthony, one of the show's hosts, was coming back sunday night from a cleveland, ohio show on the Opie and Anthony Virus Tour and had a very minor tiff with his girlfriend of 7 years (in which he says they've never had a major fight). When they got home, they both kinda danced around it and didnt really resolve it.
    Heres where it gets interesting. Anthony's girlfriend got drunk on tuesday afternoon and was half-passed out when anthony got home, and he was in the middle of taking care of her when a cop came to the door. He wasnt being arrested or anything, the cop was just there to deliver some police athletic league stickers and such (for thos of you who dont know what the PAL is, its a charity organization to support police athletics like softball teams and such, as well as other community youth sports programs). Well, seizing the opportunity, he asked the cop to just check on his girlfriend to make sure she was ok, and the cop suggested taking her to the hospital since he wasnt really qualified to make a medical judgment.
    So anthony takes her to the hospital where they pronounced her to just be drunk (not overly drunk, so no drugs or charcoal or anything involved) and were letting her sober up. Then a hospital psychiatrist comes in and does an "evaluation" on her....while she was still very drunk. This was at about 3:00 in the afternoon according to anthony. The shrink then informed them that the girlfriend could either voluntarily commit herself to the mental ward or they would involuntarily commit her. Ten hours later, the shrink came back and informed them that she was being involuntarily committed. When anthony asked what the reason was, the shrink divulged that she had asked anthony's girlfriend if she was depressed and the girlfriend responded that "everyone gets a little depressed every once in a while" and thats why she was being involuntarily committed. Keep in mind, she was still drunk when saying this and would later tell anthony that she had NO recollection of ever talking to a shrink.
    So they committed her and sent anthony home. Anthony went to visit her at the first opportunity the next day and she was so doped up she was falling asleep while they were eating lunch. Anthony questioned why she was doped up and they said she had trouble sleeping the night before so they gave her medication. When he slapped them with the fact that her sleeping problems were the night before and demanded to know why they dosed her again, they blew him off. So later she apparently got a second examination from a shrink who said she was ok to go and that she only had to be signed out. Problem is that theres only one doctor who could sign her out and he was unavailable. He was either in conferences, meetings, or in an off-site activity (which anthony took as playing golf). Any way you slice it, the doctor couldnt be reached and anthony's girlfriend is still in the psych ward at the hospital right now.

    So heres the legal parts of it. First, the interview was illegal as it was done before she was medically cleared as being sober, so they had no right to commit her in the first place. Second, the form to Baker Act someone (mandatory involuntary commitment to a mental facility) must be signed by 2 separate psychiatrists who have interviewed the patient and has assessed an IMMINENT PHYSICAL THREAT TO THEMSELVES. Only one interview was given and theres no way that you could constrew someone saying that "everyone gets a little depressed sometimes" as being an imminent physical threat to themselves. Third, they administered medication to her without her consent, which is illegal. Fourth, when anthony asked for her medical records after having her grant him temporary power of attorney, they denied him access, which is illegal. So this hospital broke the law 4 times in two days, not to mention the fact that the doctors have been dodging anthony the whole time, when all he was trying to do in the first place was make sure his girlfriend was alright. AND HE'S A CELEBRITY!

    So just think about what people like this can do to you if they can get away with treating famous people like this. Not to say they're going to get off (he's already called his lawyers according to what he said on the show this morning and is fully planning on suing the hospital and the doctor, as well as pressing criminal charges), but so far, he's been treated like a third rate citizen. Make sure you know your rights and dont let people bully you around because they talk like they know more than you do, or you could end up in a psych ward for just getting drunk one night over a fight with your girlfriend/boyfriend.

  • #2
    Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

    He should march into that hospital with about 4 lawyers in tow and she'd be out in under 5 minutes.

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    • #3
      Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

      This is what alcohol does to your life, churren.
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      • #4
        Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

        There may also be more to the story.

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        • #5
          Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

          Interesting.

          Good read.
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          • #6
            Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

            Originally posted by leejo View Post
            There may also be more to the story.
            I have no doubt... The story, as told, is pretty scary, though.

            Originally posted by Ferris Bueller View Post
            So heres the legal parts of it. First, the interview was illegal as it was done before she was medically cleared as being sober, so they had no right to commit her in the first place. Second, the form to Baker Act someone (mandatory involuntary commitment to a mental facility) must be signed by 2 separate psychiatrists who have interviewed the patient and has assessed an IMMINENT PHYSICAL THREAT TO THEMSELVES. Only one interview was given and theres no way that you could constrew someone saying that "everyone gets a little depressed sometimes" as being an imminent physical threat to themselves. Third, they administered medication to her without her consent, which is illegal.
            I've never heard of interviewing a drunk to be illegal. It's often medically necessary. As is administering medication without consent, which is absolutely NOT illegal.
            Fourth, when anthony asked for her medical records after having her grant him temporary power of attorney, they denied him access, which is illegal.
            Wrong again. Nobody ever has to honor someone's power of attorney. They may, and they'll be legally in the right to do so, but there is no law that says anyone MUST accept a power of attorney.

            Maybe I'm wrong, though. Let me qualify my statements with "in most states". Maybe New York is different from everywhere else... I know some states have weird laws.
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            • #7
              Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

              I checked with my uncle who is a insurance attorney. He said that power of attorney is a legally binding document that gives the bearer the right to govern the trustee's legal affairs, which includes medical records, and if they are not surrendered upon request, the person failing to do so may be charged with either falsifying private records or withholding priveleged information, depending on the state.

              Also, interviewing a drunk for the purpose of determining whether or not to commit them to a facility is very very illegal according to both my mother (who is a licensed psychiatrist) and my wife (who is a psyciatric nurse). The patient must be medically cleared as having a 0.0 BAC before an interview for the purposes of involuntary commitment may be conducted.
              Third, administering medication without consent in cases where the medication is not needed, such as this, can be construed as negligent malpractice and abuse of controlled substance. Which, in the states that i've lived in (florida, colorado, california and hawaii), qualify as criminal acts. So technically, so long as new york has similar laws, which i would assume they do, is illegal.

              Also, having listened to the radio show, Anthony had several attorneys (not his own) call in and advise him on his rights in the situation, as well as his attorney, who was the basis for my original rant. So what I said was illegal, i got from the jaws of a law shark.

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              • #8
                Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

                Sad as it is, it's nothing compared to the drug war horror stories you hear. At least she'll get out sometime this decade.
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                • #9
                  Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

                  Originally posted by Ferris Bueller View Post
                  Also, interviewing a drunk for the purpose of determining whether or not to commit them to a facility is very very illegal according to both my mother (who is a licensed psychiatrist) and my wife (who is a psyciatric nurse). The patient must be medically cleared as having a 0.0 BAC before an interview for the purposes of involuntary commitment may be conducted.
                  Lots of drunk people attempt suicides. Psychiatric facilities end up holding onto them for detox and observation...is it really anyone's contention here that that's not an involuntary commitment? Does a drunk man who slashes his wrists have to be sober in order to be held for his safety? Of course not.

                  The idea that substance-addled people can't be interviewed is a little bizarre. People taking anti-depressants who suffer from seratonin saturation will hallucinate, become paranoid, or suffer from a host of other bad bad symptoms due to their incorrect level of medication. When the drugs wear off, they will be back to normal. It wouldn't make sense to have a doctor wait until the situation had passed to decide if the person was capable of making their own decisions. The point of an involuntary commitment is to make the decision for someone not capable of making it for themselves.

                  A drunk person who is suicidal will probably not be suicidal when they sober up. It's when they ARE drunk that you want to be able to evaluate them for the danger to themselves and others, and how would you do that if even TALKING to them was illegal? Because that's what such a rule would mean, since once a person said they had suicidal intentions to a psychiatirst they would become liable for what happens next.

                  I agree this particular story is a little scary. I also think that Anthony is leaving something major out of the equation that is probably a rather key piece of the puzzle, based on the original post.

                  I, along with many other people here, drinking age and otherwise, have consumed an incredible amount of alcohol in my life.

                  Ask yourselves: How many times in all of the wildest drunken times of your life, when you woke up after a 3 day blackout on a small farm in another country, when you woke up in the backseat of someone's car that you didn't know, when you got caught peeing on the admiral's cat, or whatever...how many times in your life have you ever been in a situation where you thought "my friend is so drunk, I should probably have the police look at them."

                  I might invite Cing into my house to take a picture of my drunk friend, but inviting law enforcement into your house to evaluate someone's medical condition goes beyond "intoxicated." You don't do that because someone is drunk, you do that because you think they may be in danger, either because of the situation (he knew she was drinking because they had an argument, and might pose a further danger to herself) or because of their condition (he didn't know how drunk she really was, and maybe thought she was in medical danger.)

                  And when the hospital sees someone come in like that, someone who is brought in under those circumstances ("My girlfriend is depressed, we had a fight, she drank herself into a stupor, I'm really worried about her and so I reported it to this cop) and they ask that person if they are depressed....gee, I wonder if the same lawyers so ready to sue the hospital over this would be eager to sue the hospital for not committing her if she ended up drinking herself to death the next night?

                  It's obvious that she was depressed enough to drink herself into blackout at noon on Tuesday (the psychiatrist interviewed her at 3) and if that doesn't signify an immediate danger to oneself, well, I don't know what does.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

                    Eh, I saw a guy drinking at 8am once time which seemed weird until I realized there was a plant nearby and he had probably just finished his 8 hour shift. Lots of people keep strange hours. The timing of the stupor doesn't bug me.

                    I agree with everything else you wrote though. What bugs me isn't that she was observed overnight but that she was kept there for several days. I think there is definitely more to the story. I'm not an expert but my understanding was that an adult can pretty much walk out of a psychiatric ward any time they choose unless a judge, not 1 or 20 shrinks, has signed a document that says the person has to stay. I wonder if she's staying at camp happy farms voluntarily and is dodging the guy's questions, etc.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

                      Originally posted by leejo View Post
                      Eh, I saw a guy drinking at 8am once time which seemed weird until I realized there was a plant nearby and he had probably just finished his 8 hour shift. Lots of people keep strange hours. The timing of the stupor doesn't bug me.

                      I agree with everything else you wrote though. What bugs me isn't that she was observed overnight but that she was kept there for several days. I think there is definitely more to the story. I'm not an expert but my understanding was that an adult can pretty much walk out of a psychiatric ward any time they choose unless a judge, not 1 or 20 shrinks, has signed a document that says the person has to stay. I wonder if she's staying at camp happy farms voluntarily and is dodging the guy's questions, etc.

                      That "anytime you like" bit is what they say, but not generally what they mean. People who voluntarily commit themselves usually sign something that says that they will be released within 48 to 72 hours of when they request to leave...it varies from state to state.

                      With an involuntary commitment, it basically comes down to the same period...they are generally bound by law to only be able to hold you for that 48 to 72 hour period, and if they don't or can't document any further threat, they let you go.

                      You can request to leave within an hour of being admitted. And as long as you aren't trotting around talking about suicide, you're out a couple of days later. If they couldn't hold you for that long, though, then any psychotic person would be able to request to leave immediately, and then just go try to off whoever they wanted again.

                      Most people who get "involuntarily" committed actually end up going voluntarily. With a depressed person who has already indicated they desire to kill themselves, it's all over but the paperwork. So the situation is usually presented as such:

                      They ask one last time if the person feels they are a threat to themselves. It's specific: "Do you want to hurt yourself right now?" or something very similar.

                      If the answer is yes, the person is given a choice: We can do an involuntary commitment, which will be at least 72 hours (or whatever state law is) and hold you for as long as we think is necessary, and that might involve court proceedings, and nobody wants that;

                      OR

                      You can sign this form here that says you're doing this voluntarily for your own benefit. If you sign this, then you don't have to go to court, and whenever you want to leave you can say so, and we promise we'll let you go as soon after that as we can.

                      It sounds a lot more shady than it is. Before my wife died, but after her health had gone to hell, I found her with a bunch of pills and a suicide note, and had to bring her to a facility like that after a lengthy and annoying hospital visit. Even then, when she obviously was intent on killing herself, it was a "voluntary" commitment.

                      Also, no matter what any doctor said to Anthony about his girlfriend's comments, the only words that matter are the ones she said to the doctor herself, which I'm 100% sure he wasn't in the room for. Lots of depressed people say things to their psychiatrists that they would NEVER admit to someone they're in a relationship with.

                      Did he say how she managed to grant him temporary power of attorney? In the visiting room at the psych ward where she was "involuntarily committed"?
                      I have this picture of a mental patient in scrubs writing a contract in crayon on a napkin. Somehow I don't think that would suffice....even a voluntary commitment is an indication that a person is at least temproarily not in a state of mind that enables them to make sound deicions. Also, a power of attorney has to be pretty specific, usually. Many states require them to be notarized, etc. And if she told them she didn't want anyone to know what was going on with her, they wouldn't tell him, or even tell him she'd said no.

                      Also, after being admitted, later on that evening when she'd sobered up or early the next day before visitors, she would have had a lengthy interview with a doctor, who she might have talked to about depression. Some anti-depressents and mood stabilizers cause EXTREME fatgiue over the first couple of days use, and then end up making you feel like the Energizer Bunny later. This could be pretty disconcerting to someone who is unaware of what she is taking. Keep in mind that the hospital is generally bound by all manner of expensive privacy laws to not actually tell him what she is taking.

                      And "she had some trouble sleeping" might be a clinic euphamism for "when she came to, she freaked out and bit an orderly, and spent the next twelves hours strapped into a bed in our isolation room while her head spun around and she screamed that she was possessed by the devil. We heard you were coming, so we gave her something to calm her down."

                      Leejo, you're right about the alcohol midday thing. I dont have a problem with drinking during the day. But it's just totality of cirumstances...if Anthony thought it was so out of character for her to be like that, then the hospital would be forced to take that seriously. I really agree with you on the last bit...my suspicion is that she is telling him a much different side of the story than she is telling her doctors. They have to back everything up in writing for insurance and liability purposes. I bet that once she gets out of there, she will push Anthony NOT to pursue this matter further.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

                        It wasnt that he thought it was out of character. According to his story shes a real lightweight and had 3 or 4 shots of vodka (he could tell because the bottle was unopened the day before and very little was missing). He also said he had little or no experience dealing with this kind of situation since he had never seen her drunk before, so when the cop came to the door, he just made the most of the deal by asking the cop to check her out and make sure she was ok and not gonna die or anything.

                        Secondly, as far as people being interviewed when sober, this applies to people who are simply intoxcated. People who take chronic medication or have diagnosed mental illnesses do not apply. However, imagine yourself being drunk and interviewed at the hospital by a shrink and think about all the strange things you might say if asked the appropriate questions. This is why the law is written as it is.

                        The power of attorney was granted during visitation on a legal contract that he had recieved from their lawyer. And theres no little "room" for visitation, they allow it in the common area of the psych ward in hospitals.

                        The story was very detailed when he was telling it on the radio over the course of 4 hours, in which he said that the nursing staff had told him that she was at no time violent or unruly. In addition, she did have the lengthy chat with the second shrink after she was admitted and sober and informed the psychiatrist that she recalled no conversation with the original shrink and was not depressed, but had simply gone on a bender after having her first fight with her boyfriend. It was at this time that the shrink recommended that she be discharged, yet shes still there.

                        Lastly, the idea to sue is hers. Anthony is pissed and has all right to be, however, he just wants to get it over with and move on. However, shes 10x as pissed as he is and wants heads to roll.

                        Either way you want to look at it, people's rights were violated and thats the bottom line. As for the story being shady and more in-depth than it appears, im sure that will unfold later on if it is in fact true.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Just to show you how easily you can be jacked by the system...

                          First of all, I'm very sorry to read about your wife's passing and about the her tough path.

                          Second, yeah, I've visited a good friend in a psych ward (depression, alcohol) and agree about everything you said on that subject. I'm just not sure about the legality of detaining an adult who doesn't wish to be where they are. For example, I may have signed a doc. that says they can release me whenever it's convenient, but I also sign a doc before any medical procedure that releases the doc/hospital/insurance company from any liability and that's an almost-meaningless document. Where the rubber meets the road, if I am in a psych ward and want to leave, what gives someone the right to physically prevent me from leaving?

                          Irregardless, I think we're on the same page: the DJ either isn't telling the full story or isn't privy to it. The fact that he's talking about his girlfriend's involuntary commitment at a psychiatric ward is a tad insensitive to HER to say the least. It's indicitive, to me at least, or larger issues.

                          Finally, is there anything you don't know? From the impact of lowfat oils on the potato chip industry, to HIPAA, to policies at psych wards, you are the man.

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