The city attorney of San Francisco has filed a lawsuit against the state of Nevada in which it seeks reimbursement for treating psychiatric patients that were allegedly bused to SF. It was filed on Tuesday, September 10, in the San Francisco Superior Court.
The case has been under investigation for months now. City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a formal demand and threatened to sue in August after the investigation by the state found 500 discharged patients that had been transported into California dating back to 2008. Of these 500 patients, Herrera said that 24 were in San Francisco, and of those 20 were in need of emergency treatment when they arrived in the city. Herrera is therefore asking for a half-million dollars from Nevada as a reimbursement for the cost of treating the psychiatric patients.
Herrera is asking for a reimbursement from Nevada for the cost of treating the patients and for the state to change its patient discharge policies by Monday.
In response, Nevada stated that Herrera did not have evidence to back up all the accusations made. For instance, Herrera said that 20 of the patients required emergency care upon arrival without proof. In addition, Nevada probed whether Herrera had the legal standing to file the suit at all. The state additionally claims that not enough of a case has been made to require the half-million dollar reimbursement that the city is asking for.
Officials from Nevada have also noted that their discharge policies have already been strengthening in response to the allegations. Those within the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services have conducted their own review of 1,473 bus tickets purchased since 2008, which add up to approximately 5% of all discharges. In ten of the cases, the department found that there was not enough documentation to prove if hospital staff had confirmed that there was a support structure in place at the destination for the patient.
In addition, Nevada Chief Deputy Attorney General Linda C. Anderson noted that psychiatric patients moving between states also affect Nevada. She mentioned one example of a woman who had been diagnosed with a mental illness before being sent to Nevada from California. There are also many patients currently residing in Nevada mental health facilities who are from California or still California residents. Anderson feels that the solution here is to have better communication between the states to best help the patients in question, rather than proceeding through litigation and trying to assign financial penalties.
Anderson has also given state records to Herrera that demonstrate that the discharges made were proper and appropriate.
The Sacramento Bee found 1,500 psychiatric patients had been bused out of Nevada starting in 2008. Of these, 500 were provided with one-way bus tickets to California. Investigations by the Sacramento Bee began after one of the patients, James Flavy Coy Brown, showed up confused and suicidal following the long bus ride from Las Vegas to Sacramento, saying he did not know anyone in Sacramento. Nevada officials have admitted that it was wrong to send Brown to Sacramento without having made arrangements for his care upon his arrival. However, officials also maintain that other patients sent on the buses had family or other treatment waiting upon arrival.