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LA investigates 'patient dumping' of mentally ill from Nevada into California

April 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The LA City Attorney is investigating a Nevada hospital accused of shipping mentally ill patients to other states.

A Sacramento Bee newspaper article reports that Nevada's biggest state psychiatric hospital, Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, has bussed more than 1,500 mentally ill patients to California and other states.

Dr. Marvin Southard is the director of L. A. County's Department of Mental Health. He says no such patients have been identified in Los Angeles. But the county's homeless outreach teams are keeping a close eye on large city parks, Hollywood and Skid Row.

"A practice like this -- sending them to a distant city without any support, without any family connection, without any medication -- will be very unusual and disturbing," said Southard.

Trutanich says his office has launched a formal investigation into whether hundreds of mentally ill patients were bused to Los Angeles and San Francisco over the past five years.

"It taxes the resources of the residents of Los Angeles in terms of their ability to receive the services that they may need," said Trutanich.

Rawson-Neal Hospital officials deny the allegations.

"We don't just put people on buses and dump them. I mean, every time I hear that I just cringe," said Nevada State Health Officer Dr. Tracey Green.

Also, the state of Nevada says it has no proof that patient-dumping is taking place. The hospital acknowledged making one mistake: A discharged patient who was confused and suicidal was sent on a bus to Sacramento with only snacks and a three-day supply of medicine.

"This is about an error, a documentation error. This is not about a system error," said Green. "That's not our statewide policy. That's not how we treat people here."

The discharge policy in Los Angeles County is that a mentally ill person can return to the city of their origin once they're discharged but would have to be escorted by a county employee.


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