Missteps led to serious consequences. Our advocacy improved care for patients. #AdvocacyMatters

March 10, 2017 / #AdvocacyMatters

At Disability Rights Ohio, we are committed to ensuring that the right of people with disabilities to be free from serious abuse or neglect in treatment settings is protected. Recently, we were asked to step in and help a client in crisis.

This client was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, but a series of missteps almost ended tragically. The first mistake was the failure to obtain the patient's complete medical records. This was compounded by a failure to communicate with her or her family members regarding her medical history and care. While these basic steps are required for all medical providers, they were not taken here.

Compounding these errors, the nursing staff made absolutely no attempt to effectively communicate with the patient who, while nonverbal, nevertheless was able to communicate through gestures, pointing, and nonverbal sounds.

The consequences of all these omissions? The client was given food that was difficult for her to eat without choking. Even worse, the staff neglected to provide necessary anti-seizure medication. This caused the patient to have repeated seizures for the first time in decades. The end result? The patient was admitted to a medical hospital on life support.

Disability Rights Ohio Steps In

As Ohio's federally and state-designated Protection & Advocacy system, DRO is the only independent organization with the authority to go into any facility where people with disabilities live. Following a thorough investigation of this situation, DRO reported its findings to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (ODMHAS). As a result, the psychiatric hospital was placed on probation, and is now required to provide intensive training to staff. New policies and protocols, approved by ODMHAS, are being put in place to prevent this from happening again in this facility.

A Positive Ending

Thanks to the advocacy of DRO, real change occurred. The client is still recovering but has returned home. And, going forward, DRO will continue to monitor the facility and report to ODMHAS as necessary.

The mission of Disability Rights Ohio is to advocate for the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio. Donate to help us continue to do this critical work.

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