No Shortage of Stupid Ideas Out There

Interesting story here

So local law enforcement here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast wants to get a law passed authorizing all sorts of non-physicians to institute a 72 hour medical hold on any person that they “think” is mentally ill.

The folks they would propose giving this authority to would include cops, park rangers, border patrol agents, and social workers.  I’m not sure if they will also include the guy who waits on me at the Taco Bell drive thru, but I don’t see why not.  He’s got about as much medical education and qualification as a lot of the aforementioned folks, I reckon.

No need to get the doctors involved any longer! Yippeeee!!!!

I guess these morons are under the false assumption that all a doctor does when he institutes a 72 hour hold is lock the person in a room and “observe” them.

In actuality, if they genuinely appear to suffer from mental illness serious enough to necessitate a 72 hour hold, we typically start doing all that “silly doctor stuff” such as ordering diagnostic tests, starting or altering medications, etc., in our crazy attempt to actually diagnose and treat the patient’s illness..

Certainly, during the time of the 72 hour hold, we usually get the social workers involved if we anticipate trying to get the patient committed by a judge for a longer stay in a mental health facility.

Most 72 hour holds I’ve been involved with typically involve patients who are admitted through the emergency department after a suicide attempt, when I’m on un-referred call.

Most of these folks are just young and stupid and usually have some alcohol and/or drugs involved.  Not usually a lot of complex medicine to practice with these folks, but there is always lot’s of potential medico-legal liability with these patients.

Sort of like this case.

In reality, the only reason most of these folks get admitted and put on 72 hour hold at all is to shift the legal liability from the E.R. doctor to DrSam.  (Gee thanks!).

If the cops and the park rangers want to take that liability off of me, then as far as I’m concerned, they can have it.

From now on, when the E.R. doc calls me to admit one of these guys, I’ll simply tell him to call the park ranger or border patrol agent and let him do the admission.

There are however, the occassional cases of folks with genuine, severe mental illness.  Folks who genuinely do represent a potentional danger to themselves and/or others and who genuinely do need help.

According to the article, the cops, etc. would receive 4 hours of training to prepare them for these new duties dealing with mental illness.

I’m humbled. I must be a dumbass. It took me 4 years of medical school and 3 years of residency (not to mention my previous undergraduate education and veterinary school education) to deal with patients suffering from mental illnesses.  These guys will be up to speed with a 4 hour seminar!

Any other illnesses you guys want to take off my hands?

Perhaps you could go ahead and admit all the Chest Pain/Rule-Out MI patients that I get on un-referred call too.

Tell you what guys,  if I promise not to try and arrest any illegal aliens, setup up sleazy speed traps with a radar gun, or break up any beer parties in a national park, will you guys leave the practice of medicine to me?



1 Response to “No Shortage of Stupid Ideas Out There”

  • Hey!!! No need to get testy and add Social Workers to that group. From what I can tell Dr Sam, the social work profession has enough to do without the PIA 72 hour hold thing too! You just keep doctoring and we’ll keep up the other stuff, except 72 hour holds of course.

    your fan

    Liz Z


    A good social worker is worth 2 times their weight in gold!

    I agree, they have enough to do without having to be responsible for doing 72 hour holds as well.

    Sorry if I came across as testy toward S.W.’s as that absolutely was not/is not my intention.




Leave a Reply

Unless otherwise indicated, all content of drsamonline is to be considered copyrighted material with full protection under the law. Nothing on drsamonline, either implied or otherwise, should be construed as indicating the establishment of a doctor-patient relationship, nor as an endorsement of any particular medication, test, or treatment. All content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It should not be used in any way for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition and should never be used as a substitute for examination and treatment by your own personal physician. Please send email to to report problems with this website . Thanks.