Hospital Drugs Patients & Dumps|Them Onto Buses, Class Claims

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – Calling it “Greyhound therapy,” a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital drugs patients and sends them on buses out of state to cities where they know no one, without medical instructions or anyone to care for them, one such patient claims in a federal class action.
     Lead plaintiff James Flavy Coy Brown claims the hospital’s illegal policies are “sometimes referred to as ‘Greyhound therapy.'”
     He sued Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, the Nevada Bureau of Health Care and Quality and Compliance, Dr. Anurag Gupta, his psychiatrist at Rawson-Neal, and others.
     The complaint states: “Plaintiffs are former psychiatric patients at defendant Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital (hereinafter ‘Rawson-Neal’) who, while still in need of psychiatric care, were involuntarily discharged from the facility by defendants and their agents and employees, and sent to out-of-state destinations where defendants knew said patients would be unable to obtain proper treatment, care and housing. Plaintiffs were medicated before their discharge and required to leave the facility under the influence of powerful anti-psychotic/tranquilizing medication. While plaintiffs were in a drugged state, and incompetent to give informed consent, the standard procedure was for institution staff to physically escort plaintiffs from the facility and place them in taxis bound for the Greyhound Bus Station in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were directed and required to travel on pre-paid tickets which had been previously ordered and paid for by Defendants Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (hereinafter ‘SNAMHS’) and Rawson-Neal.”
     Brown, 48, says he was admitted to Rawson-Neal on Feb. 9. The hospital is run by Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services. He was given “a diagnosis of psychosis, hearing voices, and thinking of suicide,” he says in the complaint.
     He was discharged on Feb. 11.
     “Defendants knew he was penniless and homeless and defendant Rawson-Neal knew or acted in reckless disregard of the fact that he would be unable to care for himself during the journey or upon his arrival,” the complaint states. “Before he was discharged, he was started on Thorazine, Cymbalta and Klonopin, all psychotropic medications which affect thinking and judgment. While Defendant Rawson-Neal had developed a written treatment plan which included assisting him to locate a group home placement and locating a case worker for him, this treatment plan was intentionally disregarded and violated by his involuntary discharge contrary to the plan.
     “On February 13, defendant psychiatrist Dr. Anurag Gupta (hereinafter ‘Gupta’) ordered Brown discharged, physically escorted from the facility, and placed in a taxi which had been ordered by the defendants. Plaintiff Brown was then transported to the Greyhound Bus Station, where a pre-paid ticket had been purchased by the defendants to take Brown to Sacramento, California, a city which he had no prior contact, and where he knew no one. There was no follow-up plan and no prior contact had been made with any institutions in Sacramento from which Brown could obtain medical and psychiatric care. He was given three days of powerful anti-psychotic medications and bottle of Ensure for the 15 hour bus ride.
     “Plaintiff Brown arrived in Sacramento, homeless, confused and anxious. He was taken by police to a local homeless service center, Loaves and Fishes, which could provide no housing, medical care or transportation. After his arrival at that location, he was directed to the U.C. Davis Medical Center’s emergency department which, after three days, arranged for Brown to be treated by Heritage Oaks psychiatric facility. From there he was discharged to a group home in Sacramento.”
     Brown claims he’s one of more than 1,500 patients the defendants have treated this way, sent dazed and confused to nearly every state in the union.
     “After learning of the ‘dumping’ of Brown in Sacramento by defendants, the Sacramento Bee newspaper began to investigate the circumstances which led to Brown’s arrival in Sacramento and discovered that since the year 2008 approximately 1,500 patients of the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, have been transported by Greyhound Bus to almost every state in the country, all with minimum provisions to sustain them during protracted bus rides.
     “A random survey by Nevada’s Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance (hereinafter ‘NBHCQC’) of 30 discharges of psychiatric patients from Rawson-Neal revealed discharges in violation of policy and procedures of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and the facility’s own policies occur frequently. Patients, such as Brown, were involuntarily placed on Greyhound buses and sent out of state without prior arrangements having been made for follow-up care. These patients were not informed where they should go to receive continuing care upon arrival at their destinations. Discharge orders did not specify the amount of nutritional supplements to be provided to the patients for their extended bus trips; and appropriate and necessary prescription medications were not provided. Furthermore, necessary information was not provided on discharge documentation.”
     Brown seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, constitutional violations including cruel and unusual punishment, medical malpractice, negligence, gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duties.
     He is represented by Allen Lichtenstein with the ACLU of Nevada.

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