Understanding the 302 process

Mental Health and Wellness
Support group

Procedural guidelines for involuntary psychiatric care

When a loved one or someone you know is experiencing a serious behavioral health concern and appears to be in need of immediate inpatient psychiatric treatment, it can feel overwhelming. At Main Line Health, we know the process involved in committing an individual to an acute inpatient psychiatric facility on an involuntary basis is complicated. And it can be highly emotional.

The following information offers important insights to help navigate the 302 process, should you find yourself in this difficult position. We hope you find these guidelines and resources helpful.

302 process FAQs

What is a 302?

A 302 commitment in Pennsylvania is an involuntary commitment for psychiatric placement at an inpatient psychiatric unit.

  • 302 commitments can only be processed in the same county in which the behaviors have occurred
  • In order for a person to be considered for a 302 commitment, a person must meet one of the following criteria within the past 30 days:
    • Imminent risk of danger to themselves or others
    • Inability to care for themselves without supervision of another person, for example: not taking life sustaining medications, not eating or drinking
    • Attempted suicide or suicidal threats
    • Self-mutilation with intent to end one’s life

Who can request (petition) a 302?

302 commitments require a petitioner. Petitioners fall either in Part A or Part B.

  • Part A Petitioner
    • Any person in the community who has witnessed first-hand a person’s behaviors or threats that meet criteria for a 302 as stated above
    • These petitions must be approved by designated county official
  • Part B Petitioner
    • Physicians, police officers, county administrators, or county delegates
    • Medical doctor will complete evaluation for Part B Petitions

What happens after a 302 is requested (petitioned)?

After initial petition is completed, the person will be assessed by a physician to determine if 302 will be upheld or discontinued.

  • Upheld 302 means that the patient is being mandated to receive inpatient psychiatric treatment and will be admitted involuntarily
  • Discontinued 302 means that the patient is being recommended for discharge — inpatient psychiatric treatment is not necessary

Additional considerations

Patients 18 or older

  • Any adult over the age of 18 must sign themselves in for treatment regardless of diagnoses
  • A Power of Attorney or a legal guardian cannot sign in a patient for psychiatric treatment if the patient is 18 years or older

Patients 14 or younger

  • A legal guardian can sign a patient 14 years of age or younger for inpatient psychiatric treatment

Limitations of 302

  • 302 only mandates psychiatric treatment
  • 302 cannot mandate drug and alcohol treatment

County crisis resources

Chester County

Delaware County

Montgomery County

Philadelphia County

well ahead logo Content you want, delivered to your inbox

Want to get the latest health and wellness articles delivered right to your inbox? 

Subscribe to the Well Ahead Newsletter.

Man smiling looking at his phone