State hospital care under fire
Two senators focus on quality of care at public psychiatric hospitals after patient dies.
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.”