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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

SF Settles Patient-Dumping Suit With Nevada

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - San Francisco will settle its charges that Nevada dumps mentally ill patients in California for $400,000, a promise that Nevada will stop doing it, and some new rules.

Under the agreement, Nevada will be allowed to transfer psychiatric patients to California medical facilities, but only by following new guidelines.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the deal unanimously Tuesday. Nevada's Board of Examiners approved it earlier this month.

San Francisco filed a class action against Nevada in September 2013, claiming it discharged about 1,500 patients from a psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas and sent them to other states. Almost 500 were sent by Greyhound bus to California, and though most of them "required continuing medical care, Nevada did not make arrangements for the patients to be received by family members or a medical facility," the city said in the lawsuit.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors must vote again next week before the settlement goes to the mayor's desk. If Mayor Ed Lee signs it, a superior court judge must approve it.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed the lawsuit on behalf of San Francisco and other cities and counties in California who had received bused-in patients. Defendants included the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, and several administrators.

"Nevada jeopardized the bused patients' physical and mental health by failing to provide them with adequate food, water and medication during their trip to California," Herrera said, "and by failing to assure that shelter or medical care had been arranged for the patients at their destinations."

Some were given the names of shelters or told to dial "911" when they got to California. San Francisco said it spent $500,000 to care for the 24 people who ended up here.

Officials at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas "understood and expected that the bused patients would rely on San Francisco's public health resources for continuing medical care, and specifically directed some of the patients to seek care at San Francisco public health clinics and shelter at San Francisco-supported shelter and care programs," according to the complaint.

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services said it could not comment until the settlement has been approved.

Herrera Tuesday that he was "pleased we reached an agreement that will assure the well-being of psychiatric patients when they're transported."

He said the deal "also offers a model for how jurisdictions can work together to better protect our patients and taxpayers."

The agreement allows Nevada to send patients to California only if they are returning home or to a medical facility, and if they are accompanied by a responsible person or will be met by one when they arrive.

Also, until the end of 2019, Nevada must provide San Francisco with a twice-yearly report about patients who have been sent to California. The report must include the date of discharge, the destination city and the names of people responsible for receiving the patients in California medical facilities.

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