122C-263.  Duties of law-enforcement officer; first examination by physician or eligible psychologist.

(a)        Without unnecessary delay after assuming custody, the law enforcement officer or the individual designated by the clerk or magistrate under G.S. 122C-251(g) to provide transportation shall take the respondent to an area facility for examination by a physician or eligible psychologist; if a physician or eligible psychologist is not available in the area facility, the person designated to provide transportation shall take the respondent to any physician or eligible psychologist locally available. If a physician or eligible psychologist is not immediately available, the respondent may be temporarily detained in an area facility, if one is available; if an area facility is not available, the respondent may be detained under appropriate supervision in the respondent's home, in a private hospital or a clinic, in a general hospital, or in a State facility for the mentally ill, but not in a jail or other penal facility.

(b)        The examination set forth in subsection (a) of this section is not required if:

(1)        The affiant who obtained the custody order is a physician or eligible psychologist who recommends inpatient commitment;

(2)        The custody order states that the respondent was charged with a violent crime, including a crime involving assault with a deadly weapon, and he was found incapable of proceeding; or

(3)        Repealed by Session Laws 1987, c. 596, s. 3.

In any of these cases, the law-enforcement officer shall take the respondent directly to a 24-hour facility described in G.S. 122C-252.

(c)        The physician or eligible psychologist described in subsection (a) of this section shall examine the respondent as soon as possible, and in any event within 24 hours, after the respondent is presented for examination. When the examination set forth in subsection (a) of this section is performed by a physician or eligible psychologist the respondent may either be in the physical face-to-face presence of the physician or eligible psychologist or may be examined utilizing telemedicine equipment and procedures. A physician or eligible psychologist who examines a respondent by means of telemedicine must be satisfied to a reasonable medical certainty that the determinations made in accordance with subsection (d) of this section would not be different if the examination had been done in the physical presence of the physician or eligible psychologist. A physician or eligible psychologist who is not so satisfied must note that the examination was not satisfactorily accomplished, and the respondent must be taken for a face-to-face examination in the physical presence of a person authorized to perform examinations under this section. As used in this subsection, "telemedicine" is the use of two-way real-time interactive audio and video between places of lesser and greater medical capability or expertise to provide and support health care when distance separates participants who are in different geographical locations. A recipient is referred by one provider to receive the services of another provider via telemedicine.

The examination shall include but is not limited to an assessment of the respondent's:

(1)        Current and previous mental illness and mental retardation including, if available, previous treatment history;

(2)        Dangerousness to self, as defined in G.S. 122C-3(11)a. or others, as defined in G.S. 122C-3(11)b.;

(3)        Ability to survive safely without inpatient commitment, including the availability of supervision from family, friends or others; and

(4)        Capacity to make an informed decision concerning treatment.

(d)       After the conclusion of the examination the physician or eligible psychologist shall make the following determinations:

(1)        If the physician or eligible psychologist finds that:

a.         The respondent is mentally ill;

b.         The respondent is capable of surviving safely in the community with available supervision from family, friends, or others;

c.         Based on the respondent's psychiatric history, the respondent is in need of treatment in order to prevent further disability or deterioration that would predictably result in dangerousness as defined by G.S. 122C-3(11); and

d.         The respondent's current mental status or the nature of the respondent's illness limits or negates the respondent's ability to make an informed decision to seek voluntarily or comply with recommended treatment.

The physician or eligible psychologist shall so show on the examination report and shall recommend outpatient commitment. In addition the examining physician or eligible psychologist shall show the name, address, and telephone number of the proposed outpatient treatment physician or center. The person designated in the order to provide transportation shall return the respondent to the respondent's regular residence or, with the respondent's consent, to the home of a consenting individual located in the originating county, and the respondent shall be released from custody.

(2)        If the physician or eligible psychologist finds that the respondent is mentally ill and is dangerous to self, as defined in G.S. 122C-3(11)a., or others, as defined in G.S. 122C-3(11)b., the physician or eligible psychologist shall recommend inpatient commitment, and shall so show on the examination report. If, in addition to mental illness and dangerousness, the physician or eligible psychologist also finds that the respondent is known or reasonably believed to be mentally retarded, this finding shall be shown on the report. The law enforcement officer or other designated person shall take the respondent to a 24-hour facility described in G.S. 122C-252 pending a district court hearing. If there is no area 24-hour facility and if the respondent is indigent and unable to pay for care at a private 24-hour facility, the law enforcement officer or other designated person shall take the respondent to a State facility for the mentally ill designated by the Commission in accordance with G.S. 143B-147(a)(1)a. for custody, observation, and treatment and immediately notify the clerk of superior court of this action. If a 24-hour facility is not immediately available or appropriate to the respondent's medical condition, the respondent may be temporarily detained under appropriate supervision at the site of the first examination, provided that at anytime that a physician or eligible psychologist determines that the respondent is no longer in need of inpatient commitment, the proceedings shall be terminated and the respondent transported and released in accordance with subdivision (3) of this subsection. However, if the physician or eligible psychologist determines that the respondent meets the criteria for outpatient commitment, as defined in subdivision (1) of this subsection, the physician or eligible psychologist may recommend outpatient commitment, and the respondent shall be transported and released in accordance with subdivision (1) of this subsection. Any decision to terminate the proceedings or to recommend outpatient commitment after an initial recommendation of inpatient commitment shall be documented and reported to the clerk of superior court in accordance with subsection (e) of this section. If the respondent is temporarily detained and a 24-hour facility is not available or medically appropriate seven days after the issuance of the custody order, a physician or psychologist shall report this fact to the clerk of superior court and the proceedings shall be terminated. Termination of proceedings pursuant to this subdivision shall not prohibit or prevent the initiation of new involuntary commitment proceedings when appropriate. Affidavits filed in support of proceedings terminated pursuant to this subdivision may not be submitted in support of any subsequent petitions for involuntary commitment. If the affiant initiating new commitment proceedings is a physician or eligible psychologist, the affiant shall conduct a new examination and may not rely upon examinations conducted as part of proceedings terminated pursuant to this subdivision.

In the event an individual known or reasonably believed to be mentally retarded is transported to a State facility for the mentally ill, in no event shall that individual be admitted to that facility except as follows:

a.         Persons described in G.S. 122C-266(b);

b.         Persons admitted pursuant to G.S. 15A-1321;

c.         Respondents who are so extremely dangerous as to pose a serious threat to the community and to other patients committed to non-State hospital psychiatric inpatient units, as determined by the Director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services or his designee; and

d.         Respondents who are so gravely disabled by both multiple disorders and medical fragility or multiple disorders and deafness that alternative care is inappropriate, as determined by the Director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services or his designee.

Individuals transported to a State facility for the mentally ill who are not admitted by the facility may be transported by law enforcement officers or designated staff of the State facility in State-owned vehicles to an appropriate 24-hour facility that provides psychiatric inpatient care.

No later than 24 hours after the transfer, the responsible professional at the original facility shall notify the petitioner, the clerk of court, and, if consent is granted by the respondent, the next of kin, that the transfer has been completed.

(3)        If the physician or eligible psychologist finds that neither condition described in subdivisions (1) or (2) of this subsection exists, the proceedings shall be terminated. The person designated in the order to provide transportation shall return the respondent to the respondent's regular residence or, with the respondent's consent, to the home of a consenting individual located in the originating county and the respondent shall be released from custody.

(e)        The findings of the physician or eligible psychologist and the facts on which they are based shall be in writing in all cases. The physician or eligible psychologist shall send a copy of the findings to the clerk of superior court by the most reliable and expeditious means. If it cannot be reasonably anticipated that the clerk will receive the copy within 48 hours of the time that it was signed, the physician or eligible psychologist shall also communicate his findings to the clerk by telephone.

(f)        When outpatient commitment is recommended, the examining physician or eligible psychologist, if different from the proposed outpatient treatment physician or center, shall give the respondent a written notice listing the name, address, and telephone number of the proposed outpatient treatment physician or center and directing the respondent to appear at the address at a specified date and time. The examining physician or eligible psychologist before the appointment shall notify by telephone the designated outpatient treatment physician or center and shall send a copy of the notice and his examination report to the physician or center.

(g)        The physician or eligible psychologist, at the completion of the examination, shall provide the respondent with specific information regarding the next steps that will occur.  (1973, c. 726, s. 1; c. 1408, s. 1; 1977, c. 400, s. 4; c. 679, s. 8; c. 739, s. 1; 1979, c. 358, s. 27; c. 915, s. 4; 1983, c. 380, ss. 4, 10; c. 638, ss. 6, 7, 25.1; c. 864, s. 4; 1985, c. 589, s. 2; c. 695, ss. 2, 5, 6; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 863, s. 18; 1987, c. 596, s. 3; 1989, c. 225, s. 2; c. 770, s. 74; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 823, ss. 3, 4; 1991, c. 37, s. 8; c. 636, s. 2(1); c. 761, s. 49; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 739, s. 8(a)-(d); 2009-315, s. 2; 2009-340, s. 2.)