How do you determine what level of care someone needs?

There are many factors that help us, as well as outside referrers, determine what level of care is appropriate and will be most effective for you or your loved one. We take the following information into account:

  • Diagnosis

  • Age

  • Current symptoms and severity of symptoms

  • Dangerousness to self or others

  • Bed availability

  • Medical complications

Our clinicians may determine that inpatient, day hospital, intensive outpatient, or community-based treatment is most appropriate for you or your loved one, and will work with you to find a placement (if you are not entering a Sheppard Pratt program). If you or your loved one admits to an ER, the clinicians in the ER will determine the appropriate next step in terms of treatment.

How long does the admissions process take?

We strive to make the admissions process as quick and streamlined as possible. We work with many different organizations, such as other hospitals and referring clinicians, throughout the admissions process, and also need to ensure that we have a bed available that meets your or your loved one’s needs. We do not delay or decline care due to insurance or lack thereof.

What do I need to know about certification/emergency petitions?

If you have a loved one who is a danger to themselves or others and likely has a mental health condition, you can file for an emergency petition. The Maryland Emergency Petition statute allows a violent or suicidal person to be brought to an emergency facility, such as an ER, for rapid evaluation regarding the need for immediate treatment. Once at the ER, the individual will be evaluated by two physicians, or a physician and psychologist.

If, after the emergency evaluation, the individual is deemed in need of psychiatric hospitalization, they will be involuntarily placed in a psychiatric facility. Maryland law allows involuntary hospital admission when a person:

  • Has a mental health condition and

  • Needs inpatients care or treatment and

  • Presents a danger to the life or safety of themselves or others and

  • Is unable or unwilling to be voluntarily admitted and

  • There is no available less restrictive form of intervention

After someone is involuntarily admitted, they will have a hearing with an administrative law judge within 10 days of admission to determine if they still meet the requirements for involuntary admission. A patient has the right to change to a voluntary admission status any time prior to the hearing, provided the hospital psychiatrist determines they are able to understand and agree to treatment. When a patient is voluntary status, they have the right to sign out of the hospital unless the psychiatrist determines they once again meet the criteria for involuntary admission, and recertifies him/her.

Sheppard Pratt will give the patient’s parent/guardian/next of kin notice of the hearing time, date, and place so that they may testify. If the administrative law judge finds that the person meets the involuntary admission criteria, the person can be involuntarily admitted for up to six months; the average stay at Sheppard Pratt is 10 days. If the person does not meet the criteria for involuntary admission, he or she can leave immediately. However, they may be re-petitioned under new circumstances. While involuntary hospitalization is not a long term solution, it might be the best chance for someone to stabilize and seek further treatment.

Can I refer myself/my child/my spouse/my parent?

No, we do not accept any self-referrals; all patients must be evaluated by a mental health clinician within the 24 hours preceding admission.