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Investigation Uncovers Rights Violations at Connecticut Mental Health Center

After a thorough three-year investigation, Disability Rights Connecticut (DRCT) released a report on Wednesday accusing a major mental health center and its overseeing department of violating statutory and constitutional rights.

The report zeroes in on the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), an inpatient psychiatric facility in New Haven, and the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), which manages the center.

By reviewing 14 patient records and over 300 policies and procedures at CMHC and DMHAS, DRCT determined that a substantial overhaul is necessary.

“Significant improvements are needed in CMHC and DMHAS policies, procedures, practices, and staff training concerning protection from harm, including sexual abuse; patient treatment plans; restraint and seclusion; therapeutic approaches for life skills enhancement; discharge planning; and quality assurance data collection,” the report stated.

DMHAS Chief of Staff Christopher McClure responded to the report in a written statement, affirming that CMHC is accredited and patient care is the department’s top priority. He mentioned that DMHAS had collaborated with DRCT during the investigation but expressed concerns about DRCT’s findings and recommendations, suggesting they included subjective criteria and overlooked existing robust systems.

A key focus of the DRCT report is the inadequate reporting system for patient care and abuse.

“CMHC lacks effective mechanisms for reporting, investigating, and tracking crucial areas of patient care, risking patient safety,” the report claimed.

The report cited incidents of sexual misconduct that were either not reported or investigated by DMHAS, including two separate incidents where patients engaged in sexual misconduct in public areas and multiple instances of sexual abuse of a female patient by three different male patients.

The report highlighted CMHC’s failure to investigate four out of five allegations of sexual abuse reviewed by DRCT, which included serious accusations against CMHC staff and abuse from a patient’s family member prior to their admission.

Other findings included CMHC and DMHAS’s failures to ensure patient safety, appropriate use of restraint and seclusion, and adequate treatment and discharge planning, leading to significant harm to patients.

The DRCT report offered several recommendations, such as instituting a more concrete system for reporting and investigating abuse and neglect, improving quality assurance data and treatment plans, and developing procedures to protect patients from excessive restraint and seclusion.

Notably, many findings in DRCT’s report echoed those reported by the US Department of Justice at Connecticut Valley Hospital in 2007, which resulted in a settlement.

In response to the report, Senate Republicans released a statement calling for corrective actions and oversight, with Sen. Heather Somers planning to request a formal investigation.

Click here to view original article by Hudson Kamphausen at ctnewsjunkie.com

How Families Can Report Abuse and Ensure Safety of Loved Ones in Inpatient Medical Facilities

A family visiting an elderly inpatient.
Shutterstock

1. Recognize the Signs of Abuse

Understanding the indicators of abuse is the first step in protecting loved ones. Signs may include:

  • Unexplained injuries or frequent hospital visits.
  • Changes in behavior or mood, such as withdrawal or depression.
  • Poor hygiene or malnutrition.
  • Reports of inappropriate behavior or discomfort around certain staff members.

2. Report Abuse Immediately

If you suspect abuse, it is crucial to report it immediately. Here are steps to take:

Contact Facility Management: Report concerns to the facility’s management or patient advocate. Most facilities have a grievance process.

Notify State Authorities: Each state has a designated department for reporting abuse. For example, in Connecticut, you can contact the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).

Call the Police: In cases of immediate danger or criminal behavior, contact local law enforcement.

Contact Advocacy Groups: Organizations like Disability Rights Connecticut (DRCT) can provide assistance and resources for reporting abuse and advocating for patient rights.

3. Utilize Available Resources

Several resources are available for reporting abuse and seeking help:

  • National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA): NAPSA
  • National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA): NCEA
  • Disability Rights Connecticut: DRCT
  • Child Welfare Information Gateway: Provides state-specific contact information for reporting child abuse and neglect. Child Welfare Information Gateway
  • Elder Justice Initiative: Offers resources and state-specific statutes related to elder abuse. Elder Justice Initiative
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (SPCC): Provides information on reporting child abuse and a national hotline. American SPCC

4. Ensure Safety While in an Inpatient Facility

Regular Visits: Regular and unannounced visits to the facility can help you monitor the care and environment your loved one is in.

Stay Informed: Keep in close communication with the medical staff. Understand the treatment plan, medications, and daily routines of your loved one.

Build Relationships: Establish a rapport with caregivers and staff. Familiarity can encourage better care and accountability.

Advocate for Your Loved One: Be proactive in attending care meetings and advocating for necessary services and changes.

Review Facility Records: Request access to incident reports, staff credentials, and any complaints filed against the facility.

Use Technology: Install cameras in permitted areas or use video calls to frequently check on your loved one.

5. Understand Legal Rights and Protections

Families should be aware of the legal rights of patients in medical facilities, including:

  • Right to Safe and Adequate Care: Patients have the right to receive safe, respectful, and quality care.
  • Right to Be Free from Abuse: Patients are protected from physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse.
  • Right to Advocacy Services: Patients and families have the right to access advocacy services to assist in addressing concerns and ensuring rights are upheld.

For more detailed information on patient rights and protections, visit:

  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): HHS
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): CMS

Ensuring the safety and well-being of loved ones in inpatient medical facilities requires vigilance, knowledge, and proactive engagement. Utilize the available resources and stay involved in your loved one’s care to help prevent and address any issues of abuse.

 

Like this article? You may also like:

Advocacy Group Sues New York State Education Department Over Withheld Abuse Documents

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