SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH
Columbia, South Carolina
OFFICE OF THE STATE DIRECTOR OF MENTAL HEALTH DIRECTIVE NO. 857-06
TO: All Organizational Components
SUBJECT: Designated Examiners for Probate Court Procedures
1. The purpose of this directive is to clearly delineate the standards which must be met to qualify a clinician as a Designated Examiner for Probate Court commitment hearings and the procedure for registering such individuals with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s (SCDMH) Office of the Medical Director as required by South Carolina Statutes and Regulations.
2. An additional purpose of this directive is to clearly delineate responsibilities of Hospital Directors, Center Directors and case physicians in designated examinations.
It is the Policy of SCDMH to conform to South Carolina statutes and regulations and to fully inform all SCDMH Hospitals and Centers of the qualifications needed for persons to act as Designated Examiners and the procedures necessary to have persons registered as Designated Examiners.
III. DEFINITION AND STATE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION STANDARDS:
Section 44-23-10 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, as amended, defines a Designated Examiner as "a physician duly licensed by the Board of Medical Examiners of this State or a person registered by the Commission as specially qualified, under standards established by it, in the diagnosis of mental or related illnesses."
Regulation 87-1 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, as amended, establishes the following standards for Designated Examiners:
A. For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of 44-17-410 and -530 of the Code, the South Carolina Mental Health Commission hereby establishes the following qualifications needed for persons to act as Designated Examiners:
1. Registered Nurses--State licensure plus four years psychiatric experience or Master's degree with licensure and two years psychiatric experience.
2. Counselors--Master's degree in counseling (or very closely related area) plus two years related experience (clinical chaplains are considered in this category).
3. Social Workers--Master's degree in social work plus two years related experience.
4. Psychologists--Ph.D. in psychology plus one year related experience or Master's degree plus two years related experience.
5. In addition, any mental health professional as listed in 1, 2, 3 and 4 above with at least one year of intensive full-time experience working with committed patients in an admissions unit of a SCDMH psychiatric hospital, and who is certified by the Chief of Professional Services and the Director/Superintendent of the Hospital as being competent and qualified to serve as Designated Examiner and who is approved by the Medical Director of SCDMH may be appointed as Designated Examiner for examinations and hearings held within that hospital.
B. For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of 44-52-90 of the Code, the South Carolina Mental Health Commission hereby establishes the following qualifications needed for persons to act as Designated Examiners for alcohol and drug patients:
1. Those qualified Designated Examiners listed under 87-2., I, 1-5 above.
2. Alcohol and drug abuse counselors with a Master's degree in a related field and two years of experience and certified by the Certification Commission of the South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (SCAADAC).
3. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors with (a) a Bachelor's degree, (b) four years experience in the field of addiction services and (c) certified by the Certification Commission of SCAADAC.
C. A current listing of those individuals known to meet the necessary qualifications shall be maintained by SCDMH and located in the Office of the Medical Director.
D. The South Carolina Mental Health Commission will consider applications by others than those having the above qualifications where training and experience might be somewhat different than that specified. Exceptions can be made where the particular credentials of the applicant warrant.
1. The Hospital or Center requesting that a clinician be approved as a Examiner will send a letter or memo to the Medical Director along with documents (vita or resume' delineating education, and credentials). The Hospital or Center Director shall propose for Designated Examiners only those clinicians whose education and credentials meet the standards established in 87-2, and who possess the clinical knowledge and skills.
2. The Medical Director will review the supporting documents and if the Standards of Regulation 87-2 are met, then a letter of approval will be sent to the requesting Hospital or Center and the clinician will be registered on the official list maintained by the Medical Director as required by Regulation 87-2. (The Medical Director will maintain a separate list of those approved only as Designated Examiners for alcohol and drug patients.)
3. Hospitals and Centers shall maintain a current file of registered Designated Examiners employed by the Hospital or Center and shall utilize the current file as the source of names to be provided to Probate Courts for appointment as Designated Examiners in particular cases.
4. Each year, not later than July 30, Hospitals and Centers shall furnish the Medical Director their list of all Designated Examiners currently being used as of July 1 that year. (Previously listed Designated Examiners who are no longer employed at the Hospital or Center must be deleted).
5. Re-appointment and re-registration of registered Designated Examiners who transfer employment from one Hospital or Center to another is not necessary. However, the receiving Hospital or Center Directors must report the new employment location of the registered Designated Examiner to the Medical Director.
6. Hospital and Center Directors shall, in conjunction with SCDMH Staff Development, provide appropriate orientation and training to all Designated Examiners in order to ensure effective performance by the Examiners.
7. Hospital and Center Directors shall ensure that the physician performing a third designated examination, necessary when the report of two Designated Examiners is divided, be a psychiatrist who has completed an approved residency in psychiatry. (This applies only in cases of mental illness. In cases of alcohol and drug patients the third examiner may be any Designated Examiner knowledgeable in the treatment of chemical dependency.)
8. Directors shall ensure that all pertinent, current case information and records are available to Designated Examiners and the Probate Court process so as to facilitate an informed professional opinion on commitment or discharge decisions. In addition to the current clinical condition, the information available to Designated Examiners and the Probate Court shall include any relevant recent history of violent behavior and an assessment of current risk of harm.
This Directive rescinds and supercedes SCDMH Directive No. 841-03 entitled "Designated Examiners for Probate Court Commitment Procedures"
January 12, 2006