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Statement from DHHS Sec. Lanier Cansler on patient abuse incidents at Central Regional Hospital

Release Date: February 6, 2009
Contact: Mark Van Sciver, 919-733-9190

Both Governor Perdue and I pledged transparency at the beginning of this administration. Today, we learned of three incidents which have occurred at Central Regional Hospital involving patient care in the last few weeks.

On Feb. 1, a patient was assaulted by a health care technician at the CRH Raleigh campus. This incident was not reported to hospital administrators until an anonymous complaint was received by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) inspectors.

I have ordered that appropriate disciplinary action be taken with all employees involved in this incident as quickly as is permissible under state law.  In addition, we have reported this incident to law enforcement, and an investigation is under way.

The other two incidents involved a juvenile patient on the Butner campus. In the first, the patient was struck by a health care technician.  That incident was reported to all appropriate parties, including law enforcement, and the employee has been terminated.  We have just learned that the patient was also assaulted by other patients in the unit, and that incident was not reported to hospital management.  It is currently under investigation by the hospital and has been reported to law enforcement.  

This is unacceptable.  I have issued immediate directives to all facilities that all incidents involving patients must be immediately reported to hospital administrators and the Department. There is to be no deviation from this policy. It is effective immediately. Two days ago I already instituted a zero tolerance policy for all state-operated facilities involving the abuse and/or neglect of patients as well as failure to notify in the event of any knowledge of any incidents.

Employees in the state facilities must understand that they are going to be held strictly accountable not only for their employment but to the fullest extent of the law if they knowingly abuse, neglect, or by omission allow the abuse or neglect of a patient and not report it.

This evening, I am personally delivering this message to all directors of state hospitals re-emphasizing how seriously we regard these matters and to ensure that they clearly understand the zero tolerance policy that has been now put in place.  They are responsible for reporting any incidents to the Department immediately.