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When you hear the Baker Act, what are your initial thoughts? One who is unfamiliar with the meaning may think the you’re referring to tasty baked goods. But that is far from what the Baker Act entails. The Baker Act is a Florida law, also known as the Florida Mental Health Act, which allows for involuntary evaluations for individuals who may need emergency mental health services and temporary detention up to 72 hours for those who may be impaired due to mental illness. The Baker Act is vital from every aspect. It not only helps the patient, it enables concerned families and health care providers to assist the individuals to get the help they need.


The early 70s in Florida must have been quite a time. According to History of the Baker Act (2014), “In 1971 the Florida Legislature passed into law the Florida Mental Health Act, which went into effect July 1 of the following year. This Act brought about a dramatic and comprehensive revision of Florida’s ninety-seventy-year-old mental health laws. It substantially strengthened the due process and civil rights of persons in mental health facilities”. Maxine Baker, former Miami state representative sponsored the act, which is where the Baker Act name came from. As chairman of the House Committee of Mental Health and Retardation, Baker came to be one of the first legislators to put forward treatment of mental illness.

Due to Maxine Baker’s effort, the initiation to properly care for the well-being of those suffering from mental illness became a priority for each of Florida’s healthcare facilities. The rights given to the mentally ill are equal to those without such conditions. These rights include the benefit of exceptional, fair treatment and protection from exploitation, such as sexual and physical abuse. Baker’s vision for the laws regarding mental health included the need for the patients to feel equivalent in relation to care while also giving the facility or guardians the permission to carefully monitor the presumably, or diagnosed, patient with considerable effort. The role of the nurses is a clear reflection of Baker’s intentions and effort.

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Role of Nurses

What role do nurses play in the Baker Act? When it comes to the roles of nurses in the initial Baker Act, their roles are very limited. The Florida Board of Nursing (FBON) states: “The new law redefines ‘psychiatric nurse’ as a certified advanced registered nurse practitioner, instead of a registered nurse, who holds a national advanced practice certification as a psychiatric mental health advanced practice nurse. The bill retains requirements for a psychiatric nurse to hold a master’s or doctoral degree in psychiatric nursing, and complete two years of post-master’s clinical experience under a physician’s supervision (‘Florida Nursing’, 2015). The psychiatric nurse has the most credential to deal with mentally ill patients. The responsibilities of the psychiatric nurse include the examination of the patient while also approving a patient to becoming discharged from a receiving facility. It is important to note that this can only occur if the facility is owned or operated by a health system or hospital. Furthermore, the psychiatric nurse is to respect the responsibilities of the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist ultimately approves the discharge of a patient as well as the initiation. As mentioned, there are other assorted aspects to examining a presumably, or diagnosed, mental ill patient through various consent. The LPN role in the nursing field, depending on the clinical setting, includes, but not limited to, keeping a check on the patient’s well-being (e.g., eating habits), assembling equipment, keeping check of the vital signs, and entering data related to the patient in the database.

Regarding the Florida Mental Health Act, the LPN can assist once the patient is admitted into the mental health facility. The LPN is entitled to the responsibilities as previously listed. Neither the registered nurse or the LPN has the right to diagnose, initiate an involuntary examination, or approve the discharge of a patient. The primary role is to ensure the comfort of the patients while providing practical, but exceptional, nursing care.

The Baker Act and Other States

Upon doing research I found that there are laws in other states, very similar to the Baker act here in Florida, for example the RCW Act in the state of Washington has very close guidelines and policies to those followed in the Baker Act not much difference other than the names. In New York MHL (Mental Hygiene Law) has broad guidelines under this one law people can be evaluated voluntary, informal, involuntary, or emergency. Apparently, ‘emergency admission’ (9.39 MHL) to a hospital can be based on an allegation that a person has a mental illness which is likely to result in serious physical harm to himself/herself or others, and for which immediate observation, care, and treatment is appropriate. The allegations may be made by police officers, the courts, or the director of community services (Mental Health Association, 2018). Which is exactly like the Baker Act, only in one category of the MHL. Based on my finding the criteria to be evaluated involuntary is really the same.


The Baker Act was implemented for all individuals that may be effects by mental health. As a person going through mental illness unable to think clearly, its followed for their protection. For loved ones of someone dealing with mental illness it’s there to give them a peace of mind when they want the help for those, they love the most. Surely as health care providers make proper recommendation their goal is in the best interest of the patient getting the most effective care.


  1. Baker Act. (2015, April 23). Retrieved August 15, 2018, from
  2. New Law to Take Effect July 1, 2015. (2015, June 26). Retrieved August 15, 2018, from
  3. What Are Your Rights? (2018). Retrieved August 15, 2018, from

#heathcare #medical #medicalcare #pharmaceuticals #healthcareprofessional #nurses #healthprofessionals

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