Federal Investigation Finds Poor Care at State Hospitals
Patton and Atascadero state hospitals were criticized by federal investigators who found inadequate diagnoses and treatment, improper and excessive medication and a system that leads to prolonged hospitalizations for patients at the mental health facilities, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report released Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The two hospitals will be added to a lawsuit and consent decree filed this week against Metropolitan and Napa state hospitals, where similar problems have been reported.
Investigators at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino found a high level of patient-on-patient violence, repeated attempts by patients to hang themselves and inadequate medical care that failed to detect signs of permanent damage caused by high doses of psychotropic medications, among other problems.
The hospitals were criticized for providing "cursory and not individualized" initial assessments that led to inappropriate prescriptions and treatment. In addition, investigators said pharmacy, nursing and other services at the facilities were inadequate (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 5/5).
California officials have agreed to allow federal investigators to examine the allegations of inadequate care at Napa and Metropolitan state hospitals, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
DOJ in June 2005 accused California officials of trying to prevent an investigation of Napa and blocked investigators from conducting on-site tours and patients and staff interviews, and denied access to patient records.
The consent decree could last five years, or until the state and federal authorities agree that the facilities are in compliance with the order and have maintained "sustained compliance" for 18 months (Doyle, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/5).