Doctor's Certificate

Legal Allowances

Mentally Ill, Drug Dependent, or Alcoholic Persons

OCGA Section 37-3-41(a) as to persons with mental illness, and Sec. 37-7-41(a) as to drug dependent or alcoholic persons provides:

"(a) Any physician within this state may execute a certificate stating that he has personally examined a person within the preceding 48 hours and found that, based upon observations set forth in the certificate, the person appears to be a mentally ill person (or drug dependent or alcoholic individual) requiring involuntary treatment. A physician's certificate shall expire seven days after it is executed. Any peace officer, within 72 hours after receiving such certificate, shall make diligent efforts to take into custody the person named in the certificate and to deliver him forthwith to the nearest available emergency receiving facility serving the county in which the patient is found, where he shall be received for examination."

Executing Certificates

Subsection (d) of this Code section permits other health care professionals to execute such certificates:

"(d) Any psychologist, [licensed] clinical social worker, or clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric / mental health may perform any act specified by this Code section to be performed by a physician. Any reference in any part of this chapter to a physician acting under this Code section shall be deemed to refer equally to a psychologist, a clinical social worker, or a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric/mental health acting under this Code section....(The Code here specifies the licensing requirements)."

Standards on the Certificates

Formerly, the facts on which any such certificate or order was based had to meet the standards for inpatient treatment as defined by the Code. Essentially, these standards demand a finding that the person is a danger either to himself or herself, or others. A change in the law, i.e., in the definitions of "involuntary treatment" and "mentally ill person requiring involuntary treatment," allows a doctor's certificate, police delivery, or a Probate Court emergency order to apprehend to be based on the person's meeting involuntary inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment. See Section 37-3-1 (9.3) and 37-3-1 (12) of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA). For more information, please See Involuntary Treatment Standards.