Can the police legally keep a “suicidal” patient from leaving an ER?

Asked on January 8, 2013 under Personal Injury, Virginia


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It depends. The hospital may be able to keep a person without their permission for up to 72 hours in most instances. After that, it will depend a lot on the issue of the crime (arrest) or if the person has been somehow declared incompetent. A person being in danger of himself may be held based on some court motions but the police themselves could not do so without court order.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, under the laws of all states in this country law enforcement as well as medical personnel can physically restrain an invidual and keep him or her from leaving a medical facility if there is a reasonable belief that the particular individual is suicidal.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.