Judge Eases Federal Oversight of State Mental Health Hospitals
On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge released California's publicÂ mental healthÂ hospitals from federal oversight on all but one issue at Napa State Hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports (Kim/Romney, Los Angeles Times, 9/25).
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice sued California on the grounds that it was violating patients' rights by using improper restraints, heavy sedatives and failing to provide adequate treatment.
The state settled the lawsuit and agreed to a court-supervised improvement plan for four public hospitals with more than 4,000 patients.
DOJ's main objectives were to ensure that patients were not institutionalized longer than necessary and learned to control violent tendencies (California Healthline, 4/16).
Last fall, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins released Patton State Hospital and Atascadero State Hospital from federal oversight.
Details of the Judge's Latest Decision
On Monday, Collin released Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk from further federal oversight.
However, she said she still was troubled by the death of a patient last spring at Napa State Hospital. That patient had been placed in handcuffs while in a prone position, according to the Times.
She ordered further monitoring to ensure that the hospital complies with a federal recommendation not to use such restraints. The oversight is expected to last between seven months and one year, the Times reports.
Response From the State
Kathy Gaither -- chief deputy director of the Department of State Hospitals -- said in a statement that her agency was "pleased that the court recognized the progress made in the state hospital system by lifting the consent judgment, excluding one specific aspect at one hospital" (Los Angeles Times, 9/25).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.