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L.A. investigates alleged patient dumping by Nevada

The city attorney is examining whether a Las Vegas hospital sent discharged patients to Los Angeles. Nevada's governor says disciplinary actions have been taken.

April 23, 2013|By Lee Romney and Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times
  • City Atty. Carmen Trutanich's office is trying to determine whether Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital improperly dumped patients in Los Angeles, as alleged in an investigation by the Sacramento Bee.
City Atty. Carmen Trutanich's office is trying to determine whether… (Christina House / For the…)

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich has launched a criminal investigation into possible patient dumping by a psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Trutanich's office is trying to determine whether Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital improperly dumped patients in Los Angeles, as alleged in an investigation by the Sacramento Bee.

"If we were to be able to find patients and we could determine that the patients were sent here by Rawson-Neal, then potentially there could be laws broken in doing that," said Sandy Cooney, a spokesman for Trutanich. "You can't just send patients without making sure there is someone on the other end to receive them."

Earlier, Cooney had said the office was "gathering information and from that information trying to determine whether what we gather warrants an investigation." Although Trutanich has upped the ante by announcing an investigation, Cooney said the information gathering is still in the early stages.

Meanwhile, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement that his office launched three separate investigations and that disciplinary actions had been taken. The governor's office determined that policies were not followed in at least in one instance. The new policy, he said, provides "additional oversight" to ensure that the hospital follows proper discharge procedures.

"Let me be clear, improperly discharging one patient is one patient too many," he said in the statement. "I take the concerns regarding Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital very seriously and it is not the policy of the state of Nevada to engage in 'patient dumping.' "

The Sacramento Bee reported last month that more than 200 Nevada psychiatric patients were given bus tickets and sent to Los Angeles County after their release from hospitals.

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health spokeswoman Kathleen Piche said no such patients have been identified here to date, "but we have no way of knowing unless a complaint is made."

The county's policy allows for the return of mentally ill clients to their cities of origin or reuniting them with family, but only if they are accompanied by an escort, she said.

Los Angeles' inquiry follows Monday's announcement by the San Francisco city attorney's office that it had launched a formal investigation of the Nevada facility.

lee.romney@latimes.com

anna.gorman@latimes.com

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