State hospi­tal care un­der fire

Two sen­a­tors fo­cus on qual­ity of care at pub­lic psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tals af­ter pa­tient dies.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Byan­drea Ball aball@states­man.com Sen­a­tors

Two key state sen­a­tors are turn­ing their at­ten­tion to prob­lems at Texas’ pub­lic psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tals, with one say­ing she might ffile leg­is­la­tion to bet­ter pro­tect pa­tients.

Sens. Jane Nel­son, R-Flower Mound, and Ju­dith Zaf­frini, DLaredo, com­mented on trou­bles at the tax­payer-funded hos­pi­tals fol­low­ing a Dec. 2 Amer­i­can-States­man story about the death of 33-year-old Brandy Bell, a pa­tient at Rusk State Hospi­tal.

Although an au­topsy report said Bell died in May of bi­lat­eral pul­monary em­boli — blood clots in the lungs — an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices found that the hospi­tal made crit­i­cal nurs­ing mis­takes by fail­ing to ad­e­quately ad­dress Bell’s self­s­tar­va­tion. The Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices in­ves­ti­gates com­plaints re­lated to the fed­er­ally funded treat­ment of pa­tients.

Both sen­a­tors serve on the Se­nate Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, with Nel­son act­ing as chair­woman.

“I was deeply sad­dened to learn of this pre­ventable loss of life, as well as other tragedies that have oc­curred in our state hos­pi­tals,” said Nel­son, who is­sued a writ­ten state­ment through her of­fce. “We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect those who ar­rive at th­ese fa­cil­i­ties in such vul­ner­a­ble states, and I am ex­plor­ing our leg­isla­tive op­tions to bet­ter en­sure the safety of th­ese pa­tients.”

Zaf­frini, mean­while,

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