Senate Committee Calls for Baker Act Study Instead of Expanding the Powers of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Florida’s nurse practitioners and physician assistants were hopeful the Senate would vote to allow them to have the authority to order the involuntary commitment of a patient for mental-health evaluation under the Baker Act. However, instead on April 15, 2013, the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee passed the formation of a work group to figure out how to improve the more than 40-year-old Florida mental health act.

Current Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Cannot Sign Off on Paperwork to Admit Patients Under the Baker Act.

Currently, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can perform an evaluation, but cannot sign off on voluntary or involuntary examination paperwork to admit someone to treatment under the Baker Act. Instead, they must wait for a physician or law enforcement official to perform another evaluation and sign the paperwork. As this process is going on, the patient is free to go, meaning that person may leave the health facility before receiving the care they need.

Study Will Determine Effectiveness of Mental Health Act.

The work group established by the senate must determine the necessary revisions that need to be made to improve the Baker Act. The group must file a report on their findings by January 14, 2014.

In a Tampa Bay Times article, senators voiced their concerns about the Baker Act, but said they wanted to know exactly what happens after a person is committed and the type of treatment patients receive. In the same Tampa Bay Times article, members of the Florida Association for Nurse Practitioners said the state’s 1,300 nurse practitioners are hoping for a decision this year.  To read the entire article from the Tampa Bay Times, click here.

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Do you think nurse practitioners and physician assistants should have the right to order involuntary commitment of a patient? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Koff, Rochelle and Stone, Richard. “Senate Committee Calls for Study of Baker Act Instead of Expanding Roles of Nurse Practitioners.” Tampa Bay Times. (April 15, 2013). From:

Curington, Jennifer. “Measure Would Broaden Powers Under Baker Act.” Orlando Sentinel. (April 11, 2013). From April 11, 2013, issue of Orlando Sentinel, Local News, B3.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

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"The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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