A US agency is taking action against a Nevada hospital accused of “patient dumping” — releasing psychiatric patients and sending them on buses to neighboring states.
The Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital was previously warned about being in violation of Medicare rules governing how patients are discharged. The hospital was also warned it could lose critical funding under the federal healthcare insurance program unless it corrected the problem.
Unfortunately, it appears that the hospital failed to do so. A notice in the form of a letter was received on Friday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to the Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services agency, which is licensed to run the hospital for the state.
The issue began after The Sacramento Bee investigated the clinic. They documented that Rawson-Neal gave one-way Greyhound Bus tickets to up to 1,500 patients for destinations in California and 46 other states during the past five years. Some of those patients were put on the buses without sufficient food, medicine, or any plans for housing and continued medical treatment when they reached their destinations.
Dr. Tracey Green, Nevada’s top state health officer, estimated that less than 10 percent of the hospital’s funding comes from Medicare. She added that none comes from Medicaid. She added that most of the psychiatric hospital’s funding comes from the state.
Since the allegations came out, the hospital has tightened its discharge policies to make sure patients released to other states have the correct after-care treatment plans. Green added that all psychiatric patients from now on will be chaperoned when sent on buses, planes, or trains by the state.
The letter received on Friday states that a confidential March compliance survey “reported serious deficiencies” in discharge planning. Rawson-Neal was given until May 6 to reveal a plan that will remedy the situation. If they do not, they will face further actions to terminate the hospital’s Medicare provider agreement.