Involuntary commitment affirmed for woman walking in middle of highway

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a Monroe County woman’s temporary mental health commitment at a Bloomington hospital after finding her schizophrenia made her dangerous to herself and gravely disabled.

In November 2019, Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital was granted emergency detention of A.S. after alleging she was diagnosed psychotic and had been walking around the middle of the highway multiple times.

The Monroe Circuit Court, which found A.S. had schizophrenia that rendered her dangerous to herself and gravely disabled, entered an order for her involuntary temporary commitment at the hospital. That order allowed the hospital to keep A.S. for up to 90 days, provided it permission to draw blood from A.S. as necessary for laboratory tests, and granted the hospital authority to treat her with antipsychotic medications.

A.S. appealed in A.S. v. Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital,19A-MH-3044, but the appellate court upheld the involuntary commitment Monday.

On appeal, A.S.’s counsel argued that “all information used to detain, and then commit, A.S.,[sic] was communicated through a loop that started with the police and ended with Dr. (Carey) Mayer, without him ever speaking directly to them.” Thus, A.S. asserted that the doctor’s testimony about what the police reported was inadmissible hearsay that could not meet the criteria for admission under the exception for a “Statement Made for Medical Diagnosis or Treatment.”

But the appellate court noted that contrary to A.S.’s assertion, the trial court did not admit into evidence Dr. Mayer’s repetition of what the police reported, but instead allowed him to explain what the police reported “for diagnostic purposes.”

Finding no error in that regard, the appellate court further found sufficient evidence to support that A.S. is gravely disabled due to her impaired judgment. It also found the forced administration of antipsychotic medication was warranted for A.S., noting that her temporary hospitalization would last no longer than three months and the timeline for her forced medication would therefore be limited.

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