Condemn Mental Hospital for ‘Dumping’ Patients

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Target: Mike Willden, Director of Health and Human Services Nevada

Goal: Reprimand all hospital officials involved in sending patients with mental disabilities on one-way trips out of the state

A recent investigation opened by San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera has shed light on a Las Vegas mental hospital’s practice of ‘patient dumping.’ Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Nevada, the hospital in question, has been accused of sending recently discharged patients on one-way trips out of the state. Since 2008, some 1,500 newly discharged patients were handed one-way Greyhound bus tickets to California and other states without provisions for medication, food, or housing. In other words, the hospital dumped their patients and their problems onto someone else’s lap. This practice is not only illegal, it is incredibly inhumane and those individuals responsible must be held accountable.

Under Nevada’s common law, hospitals have a responsibility to “exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to patients with respect to the manner in which they are discharged,” said a spokesman for Herrera. However, in the case of most patients, the hospital did not observe this duty, as was the case for 48 year old patient Flavy Coy Brown. Brown was discharged in a taxi to a Greyhound station with a one-way ticket for a 15-hour ride to Sacramento. The only provisions Brown received from the hospital were a three-day supply of his medication (for anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia) and the reassurances of his doctors that a trip to “sunny California,” where he had no friends or family, would benefit him because of the superior health care benefits.

In response to Herrera’s investigation, officials at Nevada’s Health and Human Services have promised future discharges will be reviewed “to ensure quality of discharge planning and after-care plans.” Moreover, they have placed the blame on what they are calling a “documentation error,” for the hospital’s failure to “properly discharge the reasons that support interstate replacement.” Clerical error or not, what seems clear is that the hospital and its officials knowingly placed the lives of more than a thousand patients at risk by discharging them without a plan “to be received by family, medical facility, or other responsible person at the place of destination, and without adequate food or medication.” Sign the petition below to show your support for reprimanding the hospital officials involved in patient dumping at Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Nevada.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Director Mike Willden,

A recent investigation by a San Francisco city attorney into a Nevada state mental hospital has shed light on their practice of patient dumping. Since 2008, the hospital has dumped approximately 1,500 patients to other states by placing them on one-way Greyhound Bus trips to states like California. Often the patients are sent off without any plans for them to be received by family or medical facility and without enough food or medication. This practice is appalling and illegal.

Under Nevada state law the hospital is duty bound to ensure that the manner in which patients are discharged does not bring foreseeable future harm to them. Clearly, this has not been the case for many of the patients discharged from Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital. Hospital officials are clearly endangering their patients by not ensuring their safety after discharge. Please take action to reprimand all those responsible for this inhumane and unjust practice.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: ant_43 via Flickr

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