San Francisco threatens to sue Nevada over ‘patient dumping’
August 20, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco officials are considering suing Nevada for allegedly giving some 500 poor psychiatric patients one-way bus tickets to California.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera planned to send a letter containing the allegations to Nevada Attorney General Catherine Masto on Tuesday.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a draft of the letter threatens a class-action lawsuit against Nevada unless it reimburses California cities and counties for the costs of dealing with the patients and adopts interstate transfer rules for patients.
The letter says the patients were discharged from a state-run psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas since April 2008 and got one-way bus tickets to California. Two dozen sent to San Francisco were broke, homeless and mentally ill.
Officials at Masto's office and Nevada's Health Department declined to comment to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, officials at University Medical Center in Las Vegas were questioning California health authorities about a woman left in the facility's emergency room.
Dr. Dale Carrison, the medical center's chief of staff, said the woman from California's Napa State Hospital — a state mental institution — claimed a caseworker there drove her to Las Vegas with promises of a place to stay and a disability check, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Officials could find no indication the woman had any ties to Las Vegas.
"I have been told by California authorities I contacted that they are looking into the situation," Carrison told the newspaper.
San Francisco's letter to Nevada's attorney general comes after a psychiatric patient filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit in Nevada, alleging the state give him a one-way bus ticket to Northern California, where he arrived disoriented and with no money, identification or contacts.
The suit filed by James Flavey Coy Brown seeks class-action status on behalf of as many as 1,500 people his lawyers claimed were bused from Nevada to other states.
The legal action followed a Sacramento Bee report about Brown's experience, which spurred federal and state investigations. The city of Los Angeles has also launched a criminal investigation.
The patients in question were released from Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, the only state adult psychiatric hospital in Southern Nevada.
A Nevada Health and Human Services summary from April reported that 31,043 people were admitted to Rawson-Neal during a five-year span, and that 1,473 patients were provided bus transportation out of the state.
The review identified 10 cases in which documentation was insufficient to determine whether hospital staffers had checked to ensure the released patient had family or a support system waiting in the new state.