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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 15 July, 2020
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Psychiatric patients 'given medication and sent to California on bus'

A group of patients are suing their hospital, and the state of Nevada, over allegedly rampant ‘patient dumping’.

James Brown speaks during a news conference about his legal action against the state of Nevada.
James Brown speaks during a news conference about his legal action against the state of Nevada.
Image: Julie Jacobson/AP

A GROUP OF psychiatric patients is suing the US state of Nevada, and the hospital there that treated them, over an allegedly rampant practice where hospital workers would deliberately send patients on buses to other states.

A federal lawsuit has been filed by a civil liberties group, backing a patient who was given three days’ worth of drinks and medication before being put on a bus from Las Vegas to Sacramento, across the state boundary in California – where he would be in the care of another entity.

The man, James Brown, was disoriented and frightened when he arrived – in a city he didn’t know, with no contacts to help him, nowhere to stay, and with no money or identification.

His case prompted an investigation by the Sacramento Bee newspaper – which discovered almost 1,500 examples of patients being sent from the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas to out-of-state cities where they had no family or friends.

Brown told the paper that a doctor in his hospital had suggested he would like “sunny California” and simply advised him to dial 911 once he arrived.

Hospital records suggested Brown had said he wanted to go to California to a group home, but there is nothing to substantiate this claim.

The governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, has launched a number of investigations but has denied any wholesale ‘patient dumping’ on the part of the hospital.

California has been keen to stop the practice, arguing that it is tantamount to abuse, while also leaving other states with the responsibility of catering to troubled individuals.

“It’s outrageous on so many levels. The way you treat a human being is to put him on a bus when he’s in desperate need of help?” State Senator Darrell Steinberg told ABC.

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Gavan Reilly

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