Violence increasing at California state mental hospitals
April 16, 2012
Assaults by patients at California’s state mental hospitals have escalated and confinements times have increased while a costly federal effort to reduce heavy drugging and improper restraining failed to improve care and help patients control violent impulses. [LATimes]
In 2006, a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state alleging that it was violating patients’ rights by heavily drugging and improperly restraining them and failing to provide appropriate treatment. The suit resulted in an agreement for an extensive court-supervised improvement plan at four hospitals with more than 4,000 patients.
However, according to a Times investigation, the plan failed to achieve the Justice Department’s main objective: to raise the level of care so patients could control their violent tendencies and would not be institutionalized any longer than necessary, the Times said.
Under the Justice Department’s plan, the use of restraints and certain medications declined. But by the end of last year, the rate of patient assaults on other patients and staff members had doubled at Atascadero State Hospital and Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, according to a Times analysis of state data.