Nevada, psychiatric hospital sued over alleged 'patient dumping'

June 12, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the state of Nevada and a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital over a practice known as "Greyhound therapy" and "patient dumping."

The class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and a Sacramento attorney is spurred by the case of former Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital patient, James Brown, who was put on a bus in Las Vegas back in February with three days worth of meds and sent one-way to California's capital city, where he knew no one. The 48-year-old suicidal man diagnosed with psychosis hadn't even been there either.

"We were dumped off like unwanted people and we're not supposed to be," said Brown.

The Sacramento Bee newspaper reviewed Greyhound bus receipts and found the Nevada hospital shipped about 1,500 patients to other states during the last five years, one-third to California. The lawsuit claims patients' civil rights were violated and seeks to end patient dumping.

Rawson-Neal didn't directly react to the lawsuit but said in a statement that staff who failed to follow protocol have been fired or disciplined and that the hospital has strengthened its out-of-state procedures "to require additional review and approval for all transportation requests. The policy also now requires a chaperone."

Lawmakers want it stopped since Californians are bearing the burden of Nevada's responsibility.

"It's outrageous on so many levels. The way you treat a human being is to put him on a bus when he's in desperate need of help?" said State Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

Steinberg is pushing for 2,000 more crisis beds and 600 more workers in this year's state budget to help California's mentally ill.

"Not only is it compassionate, but it's also cost effect. It keeps people out of jails, out of emergency rooms. People lead better more productive lives," said Steinberg.


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