Nevada Patient Busing

L.A. plans criminal probe of Nevada 'patient dumping'

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said Tuesday that his office will pursue a criminal investigation into whether Nevada's primary state mental hospital has engaged in "patient dumping" across state lines.

The investigation stems from a Bee report, published earlier this month, that found that Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas regularly discharges patients via Greyhound bus to cities and states across the nation.

Rawson-Neal bused roughly 1,500 patients out of southern Nevada from July 2008 through early March 2013, according to a Bee review of Greyhound bus receipts purchased by Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services. The hospital sent 500 patients to California during that period, and about 150 to Los Angeles, more than anywhere else in the country.

Nevada's busing policy came under scrutiny after one of the hospital's patients was dispatched to Sacramento, a place where he knew no one, with a three-day supply of medications for his serious mood disorders and enough nutritional beverages to get him through the 15-hour bus ride.

Nevada health officials say the case was an exception and that the vast majority of patients bused to other cities are going to their home communities, and have family or treatment waiting for them.

Trutanich said busing so many patients to Los Angeles potentially represents "very base conduct." Patient dumping is a misdemeanor crime under Los Angeles City Code.

On Monday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced he was investigating whether Rawson-Neal had improperly discharged patients to that city without arrangements for care. In the past five years, Rawson-Neal has bused 36 psychiatric patients to San Francisco, according to The Bee's review.

Call The Bee's Phillip Reese, (916) 321-1137.