Form 21 (British Columbia - Director's Warrant [Apprehension of Patient])

A Form 21 (Director's Warrant [Apprehension of Patient]), is a form under the British Columbia Mental Health Act that is completed and allows a director (or designate) to issue a form to recall a patient if an involuntary patient leaves the hospital without permission (i.e. - absconds).

Download Form 21

  • If a patient has been missing for <48 hours, the police can bring them back without a warrant
  • Afterwards, a Form 21 needs to be issued, and police have 60 days to bring the individual back to hospital (see below).
  • The Form 21 is valid up to 60 days following the unauthorized leave after which the patient is considered to have been discharged.
  • If, however, the involuntary patient leaves the designated facility under any of the following circumstances, the warrant is valid indefinitely:
    • While charged with an offence,
    • Is liable to imprisonment, and/or
    • Considered by the Director to be likely to endanger the patient's safety or the safety of others
  • The process for managing absconding and issuing a Form 21 depends on the facility's own absconding protocol/standard operating procedure.
  • Sometimes physicians complete a Form 4 medical certificate in error for a recalled patient, because they do not realize that the person is already an involuntary patient under the Act!
  • If a patient returns to the unit/site following absconding, it is important to cancel the warrant and notify the police department to whom the report was initially made.