State Authorities Dismiss Mental Backlog: Three hospital systems have filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Health Authority, alleging that they are being unfairly burdened with civilly committed mental health patients. The attorneys for the Oregon Health Authority have asked the court to dismiss the case.
Disability Rights Oregon has also asked for a say in the matter, claiming that the hospitals aren’t looking out for their patients’ best interests and that their complaint amounts to an admission of poor treatment. In essence, the hospitals had blamed the state for violations of human rights, whereas the new files blame the institutions.
The most recent filings follow lawsuits filed in September by Legacy Health, Providence Health & Services, and PeaceHealth against the Eugene health authority, alleging that doing so violated patients’ civil rights by keeping them in hospital acute care facilities when they could have received better care at the Oregon State Hospital or other long-term care facilities.
State attorneys responded last Monday, claiming that prior court decisions and Oregon law refute the hospitals’ claim that they are burdened because the health authority failed to fulfil its duty to find long-term homes for patients confined to acute care units. The petition requests that Judge Michael Mosman dismiss the claim.
Plaintiffs argue that their beds are not as good as those at the Oregon State Hospital or other placements, and that they are not adequately compensated for caring for civilly committed people.” “These accusations provide no reasonable basis for relief.”
In response to the hospitals’ claim that they were “forced” to lodge patients with civil commitments, the state attorneys provided PDF iron filings demonstrating that the facilities explicitly requested to do so, arguing that the hospitals acted willingly. Oregon has struggled to find enough beds in the state-run psychiatric hospital or other facilities for mentally ill people who have been ordered to receive treatment, prompting the legal squabble.
It follows years of legal wrangling over how the Oregon State Hospital handled people admitted following treatment orders from the criminal justice system. Mosman issued a landmark decision in September, establishing a waiting list for new patients and establishing a deadline for how long the state hospital might take to allow certain patients to participate in their defence.
Civil Rights Offences Of Hospitals Allegedly
The three healthcare organisations contended in their September complaint that acute care facilities should only be used as a last resort to stabilise patients awaiting civil commitment. Hospitals, on the other hand, have been required to keep these patients in their care for weeks, if not the entire duration of their commitment.
The complaint claimed that because the health authority ignored cries for help, hospital staff members were put in danger while caring for hostile patients. Other examples included a five-month stay by a patient who assaulted a nurse and threatened to murder staff.
According to provisions in Oregon law cited in the state’s latest move to dismiss the lawsuit, the health authority has considerable discretion over where to send patients who have been civilly committed or who are receiving emergency treatment. According to the state’s legal brief, a patient wait list created by Mossman’s injunction limits the public hospital’s ability to treat patients.
The hospitals want to “exclude civilly committed persons from receiving care at their hospitals” to avoid incurring “expenses for additional staff and workers’ compensation costs, property damage, and room closures,” despite the fact that they have positioned themselves as advocating on behalf of patients rather than just themselves, according to the state lawyers’ filing.
Disability Rights Oregon, an organisation that has previously fought on behalf of patients in state hospitals, petitioned the court for permission to write a brief in support of the health authority’s move to dismiss the case on the same day the state filed its motion, on December 22.
According to the group’s proposed brief for the case, which is available in PDF format, the interests of the hospitals involved in the lawsuit and the patients who have been granted civil commitments are “fundamentally at odds,” and the hospitals “basically admitted in their own pleadings to routine violations of patient rights by imposing unnecessarily restrictive conditions on them.”
The institutions “declare on their own behalf that their rights are infringed each time they are required to care for an undesired patient,” according to the brief. While more patients with civil commitments are being admitted to community hospitals, Disability Rights Oregon stated in its brief that “no one has barred community hospitals from improving their overall treatment for behavioural health patients.” The hospitals’ attorneys have not yet responded.
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