Inpatient Treatment

Applies to: Anyone who is receiving services for mental illness, a developmental disability, or substance abuse on an inpatient basis in the state of Wisconsin, other than from a state-operated facility.

Patients receiving such services have rights under

  • Sec. 51.61 (PDF), Wisconsin Statutes, and
  • DHS 94 (PDF), Wisconsin Administrative Code

Their rights are explained in a brochure (P-20195A) that is given to patients when they begin receiving services. Each treatment provider also should have a poster (P-23127) listing patients' rights. (See Forms, Publications and Posters.)

Anyone may file a complaint on behalf of a patient if they believe the patient's rights have been violated. Any complaints must be filed with the service provider within 45 calendar days of the event involved or the patient becoming aware of the issue.

Complaints should be in writing, but verbal complaints may be accepted at the discretion of the service provider's or the County's Client Rights Specialist (CRS).

The community grievance procedure (PDF, 17 KB) has a multi-level process which depends on who is paying for the patient's services. If the services are through the county or through a county-contracted or approved provider, the county has a role in the grievance process.

Service providers that do not have a grievance procedure or that need to update their process may use the Model Grievance Procedure and adapt it to their needs.

All community grievance procedures must provide for an appeal to the State Grievance Examiner (SGE) in the department's Client Rights Office. The SGE issues a Level III grievance decision.

If either party to the complaint is not happy with the results, they can appeal to Level IV of the process – which is the Administrator of the Department's Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS).

The rules of the community grievance procedure are set forth in Subchapter III of DHS 94 (PDF), Wisconsin Administrative Code.

Complaints of rights violations may also be taken directly to court underSec. 51.61(7), Wisconsin Statutes (PDF - scroll to page 54).

The use of the grievance procedure is not required before going to court, but a grievance can be dismissed at the stage it is being considered once the matter is taken to court.

Last Revised: July 27, 2015