New Law Enables Better Mental Health Care in ER

A new law that takes effect January 1 gives emergency healthcare providers improved access to patients’ medical records—something that can be crucial during a mental health crisis or when a patient is unable to provide consent.

Assembly Bill 1119, signed by Governor Brown in September, addresses the lack of clarity in existing law, which has led some healthcare providers to require patient consent before sharing medical records with other providers for treatment purposes. Without that consent, emergency physicians are often left with incomplete or possibly inaccessible health records, according to the bill’s author, Assembly Member Monique Limón.

Having access to a full medical record allows an emergency room physician to consult a patient’s current primary care provider, psychiatrist, or therapist, and to restart medication or follow an existing treatment plan.

“Lack of information is a substantial barrier to effective care in the emergency room, where patients are in crisis and timely consent is not always possible,” Limón said in a news release. “AB 1119 provides emergency physicians with improved access to important medical records to allow them to deliver critical care to patients in need.”

To read the bill, visit the California Legislative Information website at


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