Department of Psychiatry &
Behavioral Medicine

What is Commitment?

When a  loved one is committed to a psychiatric facility, many concerns are raised. This information is designed to help explain what happens when someone is involuntarily hospitalized (committed) to a psychiatric facility.  Simply stated, this means your loved one will be held by court order for treatment until he or she is well enough to be discharged without threat of danger to themselves or others. For more information refer to Greenville County’s Procedures for Commitment of the Mentally Ill or Chemically Dependent Person.

What does commitment mean?
Being involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility for treatment. You may not leave the facility until a probate court judge, treatment team and physician determine you are fit for discharge.

Why and how would I be committed?
A person is committed to a psychiatric facility if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others, or if their judgement or understanding of a situation is so impaired that the person is not able to make safe decisions. A medical doctor and mental health professional will examine the patient to determine if he or she needs to be hospitalized. If it is determined the patient needs to be admitted, commitment papers will be signed by the medical doctor.

If I am committed, how long will I be in the hospital and who decides when I will be released?
The average hospital stay is five to seven days or longer depending on your need for treatment. The court will appoint two people from the psychiatric facility to serve as your Designated Examiners (DEs) while you are in the hospital. One will be a doctor and the other a trained medical health professional. Your (DEs) will examine you during your stay to see if you may leave the facility or if you should remain on committed status. If both of your DEs recommend continued hospitalization, the Probate Court Judge will issue an order for you to stay in the facility until your hearing, which will be within 15 days.

When and where is court? Do I have to go?
Court is held at Marshall I. Pickens Hospital (MIPH)  every Wednesday in the cafeteria. The Probate Court Judge and court-appointed lawyer will come to the hospital for the hearing. It is in your best interest to attend the court hearing. If you are too sick and cannot go to court, a lawyer and Designated Examiners (DEs) will speak for you. A court-appointed lawyer will be assigned to you. The lawyer will talk to you on the day of the hearing or the day before the hearing.

Family members or care partners can be at the hearing with the patient’s permission. Sometimes the Probate Court Judge will request family/care partners to be there in order to gather more information.

What should I expect during the court hearing?
The Probate Court Judge will ask your DEs to tell the court their opinion about your readiness to leave the hospital. The Judge can also ask questions of you and of your family/care partners.

If the Probate Judge releases you after listening to the DEs statements, you will be discharged. If the judge does not release you, you will remain hospitalized until you are better. Your doctor and the treatment team then decide your discharge date.

You can be released from commitment status, but still stay in the hospital if your psychiatrist thinks you need further hospitalization and you are willing to sign into the hospital voluntarily.

Do I have to pay for my hospital stay if I am committed?
Yes, you are responsible for paying your hospital bill even if you were committed to the hospital.