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Two California mental hospitals released from federal oversight

A federal judge ends a five-year court-ordered reform effort that implemented major changes in patient treatment at Atascadero State Hospital and Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino.

November 15, 2011|By John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times

Two California mental hospitals have been released from federal oversight, ending a five-year court-ordered reform effort that implemented major changes in patient treatment.

Atascadero State Hospital and Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino will no longer be subject to a consent judgment on patient care that state and federal officials reached in 2006, according to an order issued Monday by a federal judge in Los Angeles.

But Chief U.S District Court Judge Audrey B. Collins extended the consent judgment until Dec. 2 for two other hospitals — Napa State Hospital and Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk. State and federal officials are negotiating an agreement related to care at those facilities.

The court action comes as serious concerns remain about violence at the hospitals, particularly Napa, where a psychiatric technician was killed by a patient a little more than a year ago.

State Department of Mental Health officials could not be reached for comment Monday night, and U.S. Department of Justice officials declined to discuss the court order.

The federal government sued California to force changes in the four hospitals after issuing scathing reports of dismal treatment planning, overuse of medication and restraints and poor patient safety. In the consent judgment, the state agreed to an extensive to-do list to overhaul patient care.

john.hoeffel@latimes.com

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