Arizona State Hospital is having accreditation problems because the hospital recently endangered patients. For the past year, ABC 15 News has investigated
the safety, security and care of the patients of Arizona’s only state-funded mental health facility.
Because of the coverage, federal investigators went to look at the prison and see Medicare’s standards are currently being met. Here are highlights of some of the deficiencies found:
- On three occasions, patients who returned from an emergency room visit received delays physical reexamination by a medical provider because the patient returned on a Friday after 5pm, or on a Saturday. Arizona State Hospital policy did not dictate a time frame in which patients should receive a reexamination. p. 3-4
- Inadequate supervision allowed a patient to swallow harmful objects. Hospital documents show staff knew the patient suffered from impulse control disorder, and needed to be in close observation. p. 11-12
- Patient who was admitted because of self-injurious behavior and suicidal thoughts needed to be under close operation. Patient was found under the covers (hospital policy said this patient could not cover his/her hands) with a broken CD, pushing pieces of it up into the patient’s arm. Approximately two week later, the same patient covered his/her hands with a blanket (again in violation of hospital policy), and while under the blanked removed the belt buckle from his/her pants and used the metal portions to make cuts in his/her arms. p. 15-18
There are many more incidents documented in the 46 page report. Please read the full report to understand the severity of the problems at Arizona State Hospital.
While it appears that oversight within the hospital is severely lacking, oversight from the state seems to equally deficient. The last time the State of Arizona audited the hospital was in 1999, and the State did not have plans to audit the hospital again until 2019, according to ABC 15 News. The Legislature has the authority to choose when to audit the State hospital. Fortunately, because of the media coverage and the federal investigation, the state Rep. Chad Campbell D-Phoenix, is going to introduce a bill to the Legislature to force an audit of the Hospital in 2014.
People with mental illnesses are some of society’s must vulnerable citizens. Since they cannot take care of themselves, it is our job to take care of them. It is our duty as a state to make sure they are at the very least safe, and given proper care while in our custody.
Here is the Department of Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report in its entirety, via ABC 15 News.