Handling Of Mail Of Patients And Residents In State Institutions 

Link to law: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_300/oar_309/309_102.html
Published: 2015

The Oregon Administrative Rules contain OARs filed through November 15, 2015

 

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OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY,

ADDICTIONS AND MENTAL HEALTH DIVISION: MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

 

PATIENT AND RESIDENT RIGHTS
DIVISION 102
HANDLING OF MAIL OF PATIENTS AND RESIDENTS IN STATE INSTITUTIONS 

309-102-0100
Purpose
and Scope
(1) Purpose. These rules prescribe
the standards for handling mail belonging to patients in state institutions, including
mail arriving for patients and mail patients are sending from the state institution.
(2) Scope. These rules apply
to all individuals residing in a state institution as defined in OAR 309-102- 0005.
Stat. Auth.: ORS 179.040 & 413.042

Stats. Implemented: ORS 179.360
& 426.385

Hist.: MHS 5-2011, f. &
cert. ef. 8-3-11; MHS 8-2011(Temp), f. & cert. ef. 10-27-11 thru 4-20-12; MHS
1-2012, f. & cert. ef. 2-9-12
309-102-0110
Definitions
(1) “Contraband”
means any controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, unauthorized currency or any
other article which by statute, rule, order or the state institution’s policies,
is prohibited from being in a patient’s possession, and the use of which could
endanger the safety or security of the institution.
(2) “Controlled Substance”
means a drug or it’s immediate precursor classified under the federal Controlled
Substances Act and as modified under ORS 475.035.
(3) “Division” means
the Addictions and Mental Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority.
(4) “Drug Paraphernalia”
means all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are marketed for use
or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting,
manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing,
analyzing, packaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling
or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation
of Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 475.840 to 475.980 (ORS 475.525(2)).
(5) “Electronic Mail”
means digital messages transmitted electronically.
(6) “Journalist Mail”
means any mail sent to news media organizations such as, but not limited to newspapers,
magazines and television station news departments.
(7) “Legal Mail”
means any mail received from or addressed to, any attorney, court, tribal official,
elected official, disability rights organizations or advocacy group that is part
of the system outlined in ORS 192.517.
(8) “Limited Item”
means any food, non-prescribed medicine, vitamins, supplements or other article
which is allowed for patient use, but which must be held or kept in a specific area
for reasons of maintaining public health standards to ensure proper dosage or to
limit it’s ingestion, viewing or other use to the owner of the item.
(9) “Mail” means
any letter, post card, periodical or any other type of envelope or package, except
for legal mail and journalist mail.
(10) “Patient” means
a person who is residing in a state institution.
(11) “Prohibited Item”
means:
(a) Alcohol, controlled substances
or drug paraphernalia;
(b) Any item that reasonably
could be used as or turned into a weapon or instrument of escape;
(c) Any item the possession
of which is considered detrimental to the treatment of a specific patient and which
is recorded as prohibited with the rationale in the patient’s chart by the
treating physician; or
(d) Any item the possession
of which is disallowed to a clearly defined portion of the patient population or
to the entire patient population pursuant to the institution’s policies.
(12) “Reasonable Cause”
means a person has knowledge or notice of facts or circumstances which would lead
a person of ordinary care and prudence to have a strong suspicion that a specific
piece of mail contains a prohibited or limited item.
(13) “Safety” means
the institution and all patients and others persons within and around it are free
from injury, threats, harassment, identity theft or other dangers.
(14) “Security”
means prevention of any patient’s potential escape from a state institution
or the prevention of damage to institutional or personal property within the grounds
of the state institution.
(15) “State Institution”
means all Oregon State Hospital campuses including the Blue Mountain Recovery Center.
(16) “Superintendent”
means the executive head of any state institution or that person’s designee.
(17) “Treatment Care Plan”
means an individualized and comprehensive written plan of therapeutic interventions
designed, in collaboration between the patient and his or her treatment team, to
facilitate rehabilitation of psychiatric symptoms and eventual independence.
Stat. Auth.: ORS 179.040 &
413.042

Stats. Implemented: ORS 179.360
& 426.385

Hist.: MHS 5-2011, f. &
cert. ef. 8-3-11; MHS 8-2011(Temp), f. & cert. ef. 10-27-11 thru 4-20-12; MHS
1-2012, f. & cert. ef. 2-9-12
309-102-0120
Patient Rights Related to Mail
(1) Except as outlined in OAR
309-102-0130 through 309-102-0140, all patients in state institutions shall have
the right to communicate freely by sending and receiving sealed mail.
(2) All journalist, legal or
other mail may be sent or delivered by hand or via any parcel delivery service.
(3) Except as provided in ORS
309-102-0130 through 309-102-0140, no employee or any person acting through or on
behalf of the Division shall:
(a) Open, read, censor, inspect
or otherwise examine any patient’s incoming or outgoing mail without the expressed
permission of the patient who is the sender or the receiver of the mail;
(b) Prevent, obstruct or delay
any patient’s outgoing mail from being promptly mailed; or
(c) Prevent, obstruct or delay
any patient’s incoming mail from being promptly delivered to the patient.
(4) Except as required for treatment
reasons, employees having read or examined a patient’s mail shall protect
the patient’s confidentiality by refraining from discussions related to the
mail.
(5) A patient shall be promptly
informed, verbally and in writing, of:
(a) Any limitation to the right
to send or receive sealed mail;
(b) Any item having been opened
by staff; and
(c) Any item being held pursuant
to these rules.
(6) At the request of a patient
with a need, an employee may assist in reading or sending mail. Need for this assistance
shall first be documented in the patient’s Treatment Care Plan by the physician.
(7) Patients shall be provided
a reasonable amount of writing material by the state institution, as defined in
policy. Stamps shall be available for purchase by patients with funds. Patients
without funds will be provided a reasonable number of stamps by the state institution,
as defined in policy.
(8) The exchange of electronic
mail is an earned privilege and is related to the patient’s recent behaviors,
current level of care and other privileges.
(9) The application of these
rules may be contested by way of the state institution’s grievance procedures.
Stat. Auth.: ORS 179.040 &
413.042

Stats. Implemented: ORS 179.360
& 426.385

Hist.: MHS 5-2011, f. &
cert. ef. 8-3-11; MHS 8-2011(Temp), f. & cert. ef. 10-27-11 thru 4-20-12; MHS
1-2012, f. & cert. ef. 2-9-12
309-102-0130
Mail Suspected
To Contain Contraband, Limited Items or Evidence of a Crime
(1) The superintendent may designate
in writing, certain areas of the state institution as locked high security areas
that require additional precautions to protect the safety and security of the facility.
(2) In designated areas, employees
of the state institutions may open all except legal mail in the presence of the
patient as prescribed in this rule, even though there may not be reasonable cause
to believe that a specific piece of mail contains a prohibited or limited item.
(3) In order to ensure the health
or safety of individuals or the safety or security of the institution, the superintendent
may additionally order:
(a) Incoming and outgoing mail
be scanned with non-invasive technology including but not limited to x-rays or metal
detectors;
(b) Mailed electronic equipment
or other items which may have had contraband placed within, be given additional
scrutiny such as, but not limited to turning the item on to ensure it’s basic
functionality or opening up the item to look inside.
(4) When there is reasonable
cause to suspect mail contains a limited item, the superintendent may order the
item be opened by staff in the presence of the patient.
(a) If a limited item is found
within the mail, the item will be stored and made available to the patient pursuant
to the state institution’s related policies and procedures.
(b) If there is no limited or
prohibited item within, the patient may retain possession of the limited item.
(5) When there is reasonable
cause to suspect mail contains evidence of a real or potential crime, the following
steps shall occur:
(a) If the real or potential
crime may immediately threaten the health or safety of individuals or the safety
or security of the institution or the health or safety of any affiliated person,
the superintendent may hold, open or otherwise inspect the mail.
(b) If the real or potential
crime does not appear to immediately threaten the health or safety of individuals
or the safety or security of the institution, the superintendent is authorized to:
(A) Contact a law enforcement
agency and request a judicial warrant to open the mail and
(B) Hold the mail until either
the judicial warrant is denied or the warrant is received and the item is confiscated
by the law enforcement agency.
(c) If the judicial warrant
is denied the item must promptly be delivered to the patient.
(d) If the item is confiscated,
opened and examined and found to be permissible the item must promptly be delivered
to the patient.
(e) If the item is found to
contain evidence of a real or potential crime, it will remain in possession of the
law enforcement agency for further action.
(6) The intended recipient of
any mail withheld pursuant to this rule will be promptly informed of the action
unless there is reasonable cause to believe that doing so may:
(a) Increase the potential threat
to the health or safety of individuals or the safety or security of the institution
or
(b) Destroy or adversely alter
the suspected evidence of a real or potential crime.
Stat. Auth.: ORS 179.040 &
413.042

Stats. Implemented: ORS 179.360
& 426.385

Hist.: MHS 5-2011, f. &
cert. ef. 8-3-11; MHS 8-2011(Temp), f. & cert. ef. 10-27-11 thru 4-20-12; MHS
1-2012, f. & cert. ef. 2-9-12
309-102-0140
Disposition of Mail Retained
or Delivered To Patient
(1) Once opened under staff
supervision for inspection, permissible items shall not be read or otherwise further
inspected and shall be delivered without undue delay to the patient.
(2) Any item retained from a
patient’s mail shall be clearly marked to identify, at minimum the date of
the inspection and retention, the patient’s name, the name and address of
the sender, a description of the held items and both the printed name and the signature
of the employee conducting the process. The item shall then be handled as provided
in the Division’s rules related to the handling of personal property of patients
in state institutions.
(3) When any item is confiscated
by a law enforcement agency, each part of the process shall be documented in the
patient’s chart with, at minimum, the date of inspection and confiscation,
the patient’s name, the name and address of the sender, a description of the
confiscated item or items and both the printed name and the signature of the employee
who witnessed the law enforcement’s confiscation.
(4) All documentation related
to any held item shall be in writing and kept in the patient’s chart. The
patient shall receive a legible copy of each document.
Stat. Auth.: ORS 179.040 &
413.042

Stats. Implemented: ORS 179.360
& 426.385

Hist.: MHS 5-2011, f. &
cert. ef. 8-3-11; MHS 8-2011(Temp), f. & cert. ef. 10-27-11 thru 4-20-12; MHS
1-2012, f. & cert. ef. 2-9-12
309-102-0150
Notice to Patients and
Employees
(1) Upon admission to the state
institution, patients shall be informed of these rules and the institution’s
related policies and procedures, all their legal rights as detailed in ORS 426.385
and instructions on how to obtain a copy of these rules.
(2) The superintendent of the
state institution shall ensure these rules and any related policies and procedures
are thoroughly explained to each employee
upon the commencement of their employment and annually thereafter.
(3) Violation of these rules and any related
institutional policies or procedures by an employee of the Division shall constitute
cause for disciplinary action.
Stat. Auth.: ORS 179.040 &
413.042

Stats. Implemented: ORS 179.360
& 426.385

Hist.: MHS 5-2011, f. &
cert. ef. 8-3-11; MHS 8-2011(Temp), f. & cert. ef. 10-27-11 thru 4-20-12; MHS
1-2012, f. & cert. ef. 2-9-12

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