A Los Angeles City Council committee Wednesday supported an effort by the county Board of Supervisors to sponsor state legislation that would allow social workers and law enforcement officers to detain severely mentally ill people who refuse life-saving medical treatment.
Redefining The Definition Of “Gravely Disabled”
Under existing law, only mentally ill people who pose a danger to themselves or others or are “gravely disabled” can be held for involuntary evaluation and treatment in a psychiatric setting. The motion suggests amending existing language that defines gravely disabled as “a condition in which a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, is unable to provide for his or her basic personal needs for food, clothing, shelter” to add “or medical treatment where the lack or failure of such treatment results in substantial physical harm or death.”
Supervisors Vote To Support The Legislation
The Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee approved a resolution that was introduced by councilmen David Ryu, Mitchell Englander, Jose Huizar and Joe Buscaino. The Supervisors voted in January to sponsor the legislation.
Deaths Caused By Treatable Conditions
A Jan. 10 report to the board from Department of Mental Health Director Dr. Jonathan Sherin found that a “significant number” of the 831 deaths of homeless people in Los Angeles County in 2017 were due to preventable or treatable medical conditions, and a survey of mental health leaders showed widespread support for amending the definition of grave disability, according to that report.
The expanded definition is similar to that followed by 37 states, according to the county motion.