Federal Report Criticizes Metropolitan State Hospital’s Care for Children
Following an investigation launched in June 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice said that the Norwalk-based Metropolitan State Hospital's program for children and teenagers is not in compliance with the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and is "fostering despair and hopelessness" among its patients, the Los Angeles Times reports. The investigation found that the facility, which houses 100 patients between the ages of 10 and 17, diagnosed disorders that patients did not have, failed to identify patients' actual problems, prescribed inappropriate medications, did not provide enough protection from other patients, inadequately supervised patients and may have compounded patients' psychiatric distress by keeping them in the hospital longer than necessary. The report also said that the insufficient supervision may have contributed to repeated suicide attempts and possible sexual coercion between patients under the age of 18. The report recommended ways for the facility to comply with the civil rights act and to avoid a lawsuit against the state, including reviewing psychiatrists' competencies, improving nurses' training and increasing the frequency of staff meetings regarding each patient. John Rodriguez, the deputy director for long-term care at the Department of Mental Health, said, "While we could quibble over a few details, to be honest we find the bulk of the report on point." A second investigation of the 730-patient facility's adult programs is in progress (Hymon/Richardson, Los Angeles Times, 7/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.