Los Angeles Pursues Criminal Probe of Nev. Mental Health Hospital
A Los Angeles ordinance has allowed the city to pursue a criminal investigation of Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, which has been accused of busing patients with mental illnesses to cities in California and other states, the Sacramento Bee reports.
While San Francisco has launched a formal inquiry into the matter, Los Angeles is the only city that has announced a criminal investigation of Rawson-Neal (Reese, Sacramento Bee, 5/20).
Details of Rawson-Neal's Practices
According to a Bee review of bus receipts kept by the Nevada Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, the number of patients with mental illnesses sent by the psychiatric hospital to other cities via Greyhound bus increased by 66% from 2009 to 2012.
The Bee found that Rawson-Neal has sent more than 1,500 patients to other cities since July 2008.
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.
Last month, the Joint Commission -- an independent, not-for-profit firm that accredits hospitals -- launched an investigation of the hospital. CMS also has launched multiple investigations of Rawson-Neal's patient discharge practices.
In response to the investigations, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (D) said that state officials have implemented a new policy that requires two physicians instead of one and a hospital administrator to approve a discharge order for a patient. In addition, a chaperone must accompany any patient with a mental illness discharged from state facilities and sent to locations outside of Nevada, hospital officials said.
In addition, Nevada officials said that two employees at Rawson-Neal have been fired and another three were disciplined following an internal investigation that found 10 cases in which patients might have been placed on buses without family or treatment contacts at their destination (California Healthline, 5/9).
Details of Los Angeles' Investigation
Los Angeles has an ordinance that explicitly defines "patient dumping" and specifies criminal penalties for violations. The ordinance states that patients cannot be transported from hospitals to anywhere but their homes -- or the location they say is their home -- without written consent.
Investigators for Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich are searching for former Rawson-Neal patients to learn if their discharge and transportationÂ to the city violated the ordinance.Depending on the results of the investigation, the hospital could be convicted of a criminal misdemeanor orÂ be forced to pay a fine and adopt stronger discharge protocols (Sacramento Bee, 5/20). 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.