The emergency petition process in Maryland.
G. Jayaram, J. S. Janofsky and P. J. Fischer,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
18(4): 373-8, 1990.
Maryland's Emergency Petition statute allows a violent or suicidal person with a mental disorder to
be brought to an emergency facility for rapid evaluation regarding the need for emergency treatment.
Although many states have similar laws, little has been written in the psychiatric literature about the
emergency petition process. The investigators evaluated emergency petition documents, demographic
data, and the adequacy of emergency room records for all patients brought to a large county hospital
in Prince Georges County, Maryland, by emergency petition during a one-month period. All
emergency petition patients in Prince Georges County are brought to this hospital site. Of 94
petitioned patients examined during the study period, 92 records were available for review. The
emergency petition was found to meet appropriate legal criteria in 94 percent of cases. More than
half of all patients evaluated were intoxicated on alcohol or illicit drugs, and the majority of these
patients were released from the emergency room as no longer dangerous after their acute intoxication
resolved. In contrast to previous studies most of the patients evaluated were affluent, had health
insurance, and were employed.