L.A. Pursues Criminal Investigation of Alleged Nevada Patient Dumping
On Tuesday, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen TrutanichÂ announcedÂ that he is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether a Nevada mental healthÂ hospital put patients with mental illnesses on buses and sent them to cities in California and other states, the Sacramento Bee reports.
According to the Bee, so-called "patient dumping" is a misdemeanor crime under Los Angeles City Code (Reese, Sacramento Bee, 4/24).
Details of Nevada's Alleged Practices
In recent years, Nevada has reduced spending on mental health services.
According to the Bee's review of bus receipts kept by the Nevada Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, the number of patients with mental illnesses sent by Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas to other cities via Greyhound bus increased by 66% from 2009 to 2012.
The review found that since July 2008, the hospital has sent more than 1,500 patients to other cities.
According to the review, about one-third of such individuals traveled to California, including:
- 200 who arrived in Los Angeles County;
- 70 who arrived in San Diego County; and
- 19 who arrived in Sacramento.
California officials began criticizing Nevada's practices after a patient who was confused and suicidal arrived at a Sacramento homeless services facility in February.
The hospital sent the patient to Sacramento without making arrangements for treatment or housing. In addition, the patient did not have identification, medication or access to Social Security payments.
Nevada health officials say that the majority of patients sent to other cities by bus are returning home and have family or treatment programs waiting for them (Sacramento Bee, 4/24).
On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) said there are no systemic problems related to patient dumping at Rawson-Neal.
He said that his administration launched three separate investigations after he learned that at least one patient was improperly discharged from the hospital. According to Sandoval, disciplinary action was taken and new policies were implemented weeks ago to improve oversight.Sandoval said, "I take the concerns regarding Rawson-Neal ... very seriously, and it is not the policy of the State of Nevada to engage in 'patient dumping' as [has] been alleged by some," adding, "Rather, patients have a right, and a desire, to return home to their friends and families" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/23). 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.