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Finding Information from Hospitals and Mental Health Professionals


If your relative/friend has been hospitalized . . .

Naturally, you are concerned and have an understandable desire for information. You may also have helpful information to share.  In fact, it is likely that no one knows the situation like you do.

If the patient is 18 or over, confidentiality laws protect his/her right to privacy. This means that your relative, partner or friend must authorize the treatment facility to contact or disclose information to you before they are allowed to involve you in these ways.  A separate Release of Confidential Information form must be signed for each admission, and for each individual seeking to be involved in the care. Ask your loved one if they will add you to their list of individuals authorized to speak to their providers.  Staff at the nurse’s station have this form in your loved one's files.


AB 1424 is a California law requiring that relevant information provided by the patient's family about the historical course of a patient's mental disorder be considered in the legal process when determining whether probable cause exists to involuntarily detain a person for up to 72-hour for evaluation and treatment or for up to 14 days of additional treatment.

Filling out the AB 1424 form developed for use in Alameda County is the best way to assure that your particular, personal understanding of your loved one’s situation can be considered. Alameda County’s AB 1424 Form is available on-line here.

If feasible, you should fill out the form in advance, keep the information current and have extra copies on hand.  If the police or other professionals are called to determine if your family member shall be detained and treated involuntarily (“5150”), give a copy of the AB 1424 form to them to take to Psychiatric Emergency Services. You also can deliver or fax the form.

Confidentiality is often a barrier issue for family members of adults as you try to help your loved one. The AB1424 Form can help by putting a medical history as only you know it in the hands of professional care providers. The care providers would not know this material without your input. For you to hear the facts about your adult loved one's case requires that he/she sign a release of information. The release form given here is a sample form that might be recognized by an institution, though most prefer their own form. Release forms can specify particular information and dates when it is in force. Sample California Medical Information Release

Click here to read, view or print more about Confidentiality in

English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Farsi


Click here to view or print Authorization of Release for Patient Information  in

Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Farsi


Frequently Asked Questions:

1) AB1424 FAQ

2) http://www.askferc.org/ab1424.html


When you can’t find out specific information about your loved one, don't get discouraged. Call FERC! 888-896-3372. There is still a great deal you can find out, such as:

  • General information about the condition you know or suspect your relative/friend has (i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, etc.).
  • The types of mental health treatments provided for various conditions, including medications.
  • Information about how the caregiver can help when someone has, or is thought to have a mental illness.
  • Information about support systems available for family members.


If your friend or relative is in John George Psychiatric Pavilion

A Family Caregiver Advocate, based in the Mental Health Association office at 954 60th St. in Oakland, is available to answer questions and offer assistance for anyone whose friend or family member is at John George Psychiatric Pavilion.  Call 510-835-0188.  The Family Caregiver Advocate is stationed at the Mental Health Association office on Monday – Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday. She is at John George Psychiatric Pavilion on Monday - Thursday from 5:00 -7:30 p.m., where she can assist family caregivers in completing AB 1424 forms. (For assistance when your friend or family member is in any other in-patient facility call FERC).


Keep a Record

It is very helpful to keep records of your relative or friend’s mental illness history and his/her experiences in the mental health service system.  Keep records in chronological order, and include all significant events (approximate date of onset, evaluations, crisis calls, medications, mental health professionals, treatment facility specifics, outcomes, etc.).  It is worth noting anything that seemed particularly helpful or detrimental to your relative, partner or friend. If your loved one experiences a future crisis and is in need of services from an agency that may not know his/her history, an accurate record can be invaluable toward his/her receiving the treatment best suited to his/her specific needs.


Form to Provide Information when my loved one is in jail when you wish to provide his/her medical or psychiatric history information to assure the best care and treatment of your loved one.


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