New Jersey Revised Statutes § 30:4-24.2 - Rights Of Patients.

30:4-24.2 Rights of patients.

10. a. Subject to any other provisions of law and the Constitutions of New Jersey and the United States, no patient shall be deprived of any civil right solely because of receipt of treatment under the provisions of this Title nor shall the treatment modify or vary any legal or civil right of any patient, including, but not limited to, the right to register for and to vote at elections, or rights relating to the granting, forfeiture, or denial of a license, permit, privilege, or benefit pursuant to any law.

b.Every patient in treatment shall be entitled to all rights set forth in P.L.1965, c.59 and shall retain all rights not specifically denied him under this Title. A notice of the rights set forth in P.L.1965, c.59 shall be given to every patient within five days of admission to treatment. The notice shall be written in simple understandable language. It shall be in a language the patient understands and if the patient cannot read the notice, it shall be read to the patient. If a patient is adjudicated incapacitated, the notice shall be given to the patient's guardian. Receipt of this notice shall be acknowledged in writing, with a copy placed in the patient's file. If the patient or guardian refuses to acknowledge receipt of the notice, the person delivering the notice shall state this in writing, with a copy placed in the patient's file.

c.No patient may be presumed to be incapacitated because of an examination or treatment for mental illness, regardless of whether the evaluation or treatment was voluntarily or involuntarily received. A patient who leaves a mental health program following evaluation or treatment for mental illness, regardless of whether that evaluation or treatment was voluntarily or involuntarily received, shall be given a written statement of the substance of P.L.1965, c.59.

d.Each patient in treatment shall have the following rights, a list of which shall be prominently posted in all facilities providing these services and otherwise brought to the patient's attention by additional means as the department may designate:

(1)To be free from unnecessary or excessive medication. No medication shall be administered unless at the written order of a physician. Notation of each patient's medication shall be kept in the patient's treatment records. At least weekly, the attending physician shall review the drug regimen of each patient under the physician's care. All physician's orders or prescriptions shall be written with a termination date, which shall not exceed 30 days. Medication shall not be used as punishment, for the convenience of staff, as a substitute for a treatment program, or in quantities that interfere with the patient's treatment program. Voluntarily committed patients shall have the right to refuse medication.

(2)Not to be subjected to experimental research, shock treatment, psychosurgery, or sterilization, without the express and informed consent of the patient after consultation with counsel or interested party of the patient's choice. The consent shall be in writing, a copy of which shall be placed in the patient's treatment record. If the patient has been adjudicated incapacitated, a court of competent jurisdiction shall determine the necessity of the procedure at a hearing where the client is physically present, represented by counsel, and provided the right and opportunity to be confronted with and to cross-examine witnesses alleging the necessity of the procedures. In these proceedings, the burden of proof shall be on the party alleging the necessity of the procedures. If a patient cannot afford counsel, the court shall appoint an attorney not less than 10 days before the hearing. An attorney so appointed shall be entitled to a reasonable fee to be determined by the court and paid by the county from which the patient was admitted. Under no circumstances may a patient in treatment be subjected to experimental research not directly related to the specific goals of the patient's treatment program.

(3)To be free from physical restraint and isolation. Except for emergency situations, in which a patient has caused substantial property damage or attempted to harm himself or others and in which less restrictive means of restraint are not feasible, a patient may be physically restrained or placed in isolation, only on a medical director's written order or that of the director's physician designee which explains the rationale for the action. The written order may be entered only after the medical director or physician designee has personally seen the patient, and evaluated the episode or situation causing the need for restraint or isolation. Emergency use of restraints or isolation shall be for no more than one hour, by which time the medical director or physician designee shall have been consulted and shall have entered an appropriate written order. The written order shall be effective for no more than 24 hours and shall be renewed if restraint and isolation are continued. While in restraint or isolation, the patient must be bathed every 12 hours and checked by an attendant every two hours, which actions shall be noted in the patient's treatment record along with the order for restraint or isolation.

(4)To be free from corporal punishment.

e.Each patient receiving treatment pursuant to this Title, shall have the following rights, a list of which shall be prominently posted in all facilities providing these services and otherwise brought to the patient's attention by additional means as the commissioner may designate:

(1)To privacy and dignity.

(2)To the least restrictive conditions necessary to achieve the purposes of treatment.

(3)To wear the patient's own clothes; to keep and use personal possessions including toilet articles; and to keep and be allowed to spend a reasonable sum of money for canteen expenses and small purchases.

(4)To have access to individual storage space for private use.

(5)To see visitors each day.

(6)To have reasonable access to and use of telephones, both to make and receive confidential calls.

(7)To have ready access to letter writing materials, including stamps, and to mail and receive unopened correspondence.

(8) To regular physical exercise several times a week. It shall be the duty of the hospital to provide facilities and equipment for the exercise.

(9)To be outdoors at regular and frequent intervals, in the absence of medical considerations.

(10) To suitable opportunities for interaction with members of the opposite sex, with adequate supervision.

(11) To practice the patient's religion of choice or abstain from religious practices. Provisions for worship shall be made available to each person on a nondiscriminatory basis.

(12) To receive prompt and adequate medical treatment for any physical ailment.

f.Rights designated under subsection d. of this section may not be denied under any circumstances.

g. (1) A patient's rights designated under subsection e. of this section may be denied for good cause when the director of the patient's treatment program feels it is imperative to do so; provided, however, under no circumstances shall a patient's right to communicate with the patient's attorney, physician, or the courts be restricted. Any denial of a patient's rights shall take effect only after a written notice of the denial has been filed in the patient's treatment record, including an explanation of the reason for the denial.

(2)A denial of rights shall be effective for a period not to exceed 30 days and shall be renewed for additional 30-day periods only by a written statement entered by the director of the program in the patient's treatment record indicating the detailed reason for renewal of the denial.

(3)In each instance of a denial or a renewal, the patient, the patient's attorney, the patient's guardian, if the patient has been adjudicated incapacitated, and the department shall be given written notice of the denial or renewal and the reason.

h.A patient subject to this Title shall be entitled to a writ of habeas corpus upon proper petition by the patient, a relative, or a friend to any court of competent jurisdiction in the county in which the patient is detained and shall further be entitled to enforce any of the rights herein stated by civil action or other remedies otherwise available by common law or statute.

L.1965, c.59, s.10; amended 1975, c.85, s.2; 2013, c.103, s.79.

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Last modified: October 11, 2016