S.F. Seeks Documents on ‘Patient Dumping’ From Nevada Officials
On Monday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Hererra sought documentation from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services on a state hospital's alleged practice of putting patients with mental illnesses on buses and sending them to cities in California and other states, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports.
Hererra announced a formal investigation into such practices in a letter to Mike Willden, director of the Nevada DHHS (Romney, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 4/22).
Details of Nevada's Alleged Practices
In recent years, Nevada has reduced spending on mental health services.
According to the Sacramento 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, 4/19).
In a statement, Hererra said, "Assuming the reports are true, Nevada's practice of psychiatric 'patient dumping' is shockingly inhumane and illegal," adding, "We intend to investigate these reports thoroughly."
He said that the city will seek compensation if it determines that Nevada improperly transferred patients to San Francisco (Reese, Sacramento Bee, 4/22).
Hererra also said that he plans to seek an injunction to block the practice.
In a statement released on Monday, Willden said that Rawson-Neal has "maintained its high quality of certification and accreditation."
He said, "Nevada DHHS is reviewing the approximate 1,500 discharges that included out-of-state transportation over the past five years," adding that the practice "appears not to be systemic, with the failure occurring at the clinical level."According to Willden, "The hospital ... has taken immediate action to put into place both a 100% review and approval of all (proposed) out-of-state discharges and to additionally review in-state discharges to ensure the quality of discharge planning and after care plans" ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 4/22). 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.