Senator Requests State Investigation of Allegations Against Metropolitan State Hospital
Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Norwalk) is asking Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) to investigate federal accusations that the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk misdiagnosed, overmedicated and improperly restrained patients, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports (Baeder, Long Beach Press Telegram, 2/25). A U.S. Department of Justice report, which is based on DOJ investigators' visits to the hospital in June and July 2002, also identified problems with incomplete patient records and inadequate preparations for discharge. According to the report, between April 2001 and March 2002, 475 patient-on-patient assaults occurred at the facility, which typically holds between 800 and 900 patients. DOJ has given the Department of Mental Health, which runs Metropolitan, until May to respond to the report, at which time state and federal authorities will start deciding how to solve the problems at the facility. If the negotiations are not successful, DOJ could sue the state under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (California Healthline, 2/25). Nora Romero, chief of community and consumer relations at DMH, said that even before the federal investigation, hospital officials began creating policies to reduce the use of restraints and allow more patient participation in treatment. She added that DMH will prepare its written response to the federal allegations. Escutia also has requested that the Senate budget subcommittee in charge of funding DMH discuss the report, according to aide Daniel Aguilar (Long Beach Press Telegram, 2/25).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.