2021 Tennessee Code
Title 33 - Mental Health and Substance Abuse and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Chapter 6 - Mental Health Service
Part 9 - Special Provisions for Mental Health Transportation
§ 33-6-901. Transportation of Persons Under Part 4 or 5 of This Chapter by Sheriff, Secondary Transport Agent, Municipal Officer or Other Authorized Person

Universal Citation: TN Code § 33-6-901 (2021)

    1. The sheriff in a county in which a person with mental illness or serious emotional disturbance is to be transported under part 4 or 5 of this chapter, shall transport the person except for persons who are transported by:

      1. A secondary transportation agent under this section;

      2. A municipal law enforcement agency that meets the requirements for a secondary transportation agent under this section and is designated by the sheriff;

      3. A person authorized under other provisions of this title; or

      4. One or more friends, neighbors, other mental health professionals familiar with the person, relatives of the person, or a member of the clergy.

    2. The sheriff may designate a secondary transportation agent or agents for the county for persons with mental illness or serious emotional disturbance whom a physician or mandatory prescreening authority has evaluated and determined do not require physical restraint or vehicle security. A secondary transportation agent shall be available twenty-four (24) hours per day, provide adequately for the safety and security of the person to be transported, and provide appropriate medical conditions for transporting persons for involuntary hospitalization. The sheriff shall take into account in designating a secondary transportation agent or a municipal law enforcement agency both its funding and the characteristics of the persons who will be transported. The sheriff shall consult with the county mayor before designating a secondary transportation agent. A secondary transportation agent has the same duties and authority under this chapter in the detention or transportation of those persons as the sheriff. The designation of a transportation agent other than the sheriff is a discretionary function under § 29-20-205. If a mandatory prescreening agent, physician, or licensed psychologist with health service provider designation, who is acting under § 33-6-404(3)(B), determines that the person does not require physical restraint or vehicle security, then any person identified in subdivision (a)(1)(D) may, instead of the sheriff, transport the person at the transporter's expense.


      1. If a physician, psychologist, or designated professional, operating under § 33-6-404(3)(B)(iii), determines to a reasonable degree of professional certainty that the person subject to transportation under this part does not require physical restraint or vehicle security and does not pose a reasonable risk of danger to the person's self or others, then the sheriff may permit one (1) or more persons designated under this section, other than the sheriff or secondary transportation agent, to transport the person; provided, that the person or persons provide proof of current automobile insurance. Before a person is transported, the sheriff or other transportation agent designated under subdivision (a)(1) or (a)(2) shall give the notice required by § 33-6-406(b), along with the name or names of the person or persons who will actually transport the person subject to admission to a hospital or treatment resource. The person or persons designated to transport under this section must comply with the requirements of § 33-6-406(b)(2) and § 33-6-407(c), and must provide the original of the certificate completed under § 33-6-404(3)(B)(ii) to the hospital or treatment resource.

      2. When making this determination, the physician, psychologist or designated professional operating under § 33-6-404(3)(B)(iii) shall be immune from any civil liability and shall have an affirmative defense to any criminal liability arising from that protected activity.

      3. When making this determination, if the physician, psychologist or designated professional operating under § 33-6-404(3)(B)(iii) is an agent of a hospital, health care facility, or community mental health center, that hospital, health care facility, or community mental health center shall be immune from any civil liability and shall have an affirmative defense to any criminal liability arising from this agent's protected activity and from the transportation of the person to and from the facility.

  1. When a sheriff or secondary transportation agent is required to transport a person to a hospital or treatment resource for screening, evaluation, diagnosis or hospitalization, the county in which the person is initially transported by the sheriff or secondary transportation agent is responsible for the remainder of such person's transportation requirements. The initial transporting county is responsible for the continuing transportation of the person even if the person is assessed, diagnosed, screened or evaluated in a second county before being admitted to a facility, hospital or treatment resource in a third county. If the person is transported to a hospital or treatment resource by the sheriff or secondary transportation agent of a county other than the initial transporting county, the sheriff or secondary transportation agent actually providing transportation may bill the initial transporting county for transportation costs.

  2. The department shall provide training on mental health crisis management for transportation agents and the sheriffs' personnel.

  3. It is the policy of this state that people with mental illness who are determined to be a danger to themselves and in need of physical restraint or vehicular security shall be transported by the sheriff or secondary transportation agents designated by the sheriff. People with a mental illness who do not present themselves as a danger to themselves or are not in need of physical restraint or vehicular security may be transported by one (1) or more friends, neighbors, other mental health professionals familiar with the person, relatives of the person or a member of the clergy; provided, that these persons are willing and able to provide such transport.
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