Two former patients of a Nevada mental health hospital have sued the facility and state health officials, claiming they were improperly discharged.
The plaintiffs claim that officials at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, a facility operated by the state, discharged them involuntarily and then sent them to locations out-of-state without any health services prepared for them.
The lawsuit claims the plaintiffs are part of a systematic practice of “patient dumping” at Rawson-Neal. The suit said that between 2008 and January 2013, about 1,500 patients were likely discharged from Rawson-Neal to various cities without follow-up arrangements.
In the suit, both plaintiffs allege that they were given anti-psychotic medication before they were discharged from the hospital. The staff then escorted them to awaiting taxis, which took them to a Greyhound bus station with pre-paid tickets. One of the plaintiffs was sent to Flint, Mich., and the other was sent to Los Angeles.
Requests for comment from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services and the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health were not returned.
Allen Lichtenstein, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said he hasn't yet received a response from the defendants on the suit.
Lichtenstein also said the plaintiffs seek damages and changes to practice. “It's easier for the state to just ship out its responsibilities rather than meeting them, particularly when it involves mental health issues of indigent people." One of the plaintiffs was homeless before she was admitted to the hospital.
Rawson-Neal has previously been sued for alleged patient dumping tactics. A patient filed a suit in 2014 alleging he was improperly discharged but a federal appeals court recently dropped the case. The city of Los Angeles also said it would pursue a criminal investigation in 2013 of Rawson-Neal for its patient dumping practices.
The city of San Francisco sued the state of Nevada in 2013 for discharging some of its mental health patients and sending them to San Francisco on a bus. The state of Nevada paid $400,000 to settle the suit.