Officials Investigate Nev. Mental Hospital That Sent Patients to California
The Joint Commission -- an independent, not-for-profit firm that accredits hospitals -- and city attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles are investigating a Nevada mental health hospital that allegedly put hundreds of patients with mental illnesses on buses and sent them to cities in California and other states, the Sacramento Bee reports (Hubert/Reese, Sacramento Bee, 4/19).
Details of Nevada's 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 practicesÂ 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 (California Healthline, 4/15).
City attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles are gathering information to determine whether the Nevada hospital participated in cross-state "patient dumping" -- which would be grounds for legal action.
Meanwhile, Joint Commission spokesperson Elizabeth Eaken Zani said that the accreditation agency also is investigating Rawson-Neal and might require the facility to undergo a special on-site survey to assess whether it still meets the commission's standards for patient safety and care.
Depending on the findings of the survey, the Joint Commission could modify or revoke the hospital's accreditation status, the Bee reports.
In addition, CMS is reviewing the hospital's discharge practices.
If the agency finds violations, the hospital could lose federal funding (Sacramento Bee, 4/19).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.