Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Calling Nurse Ratched

The state schools in Texas are losing too many students for even the Department of Justice. Its growing population of those who have been committed to institutions has strained the facilities that the state supports. The result is damage and destruction, and that has offended those who are still the adults in charge in Washington.

Texas' institutions for people with mental retardation fail to provide adequate care and protect residents from harm — failures that have been fatal in dozens of cases, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation has found.

In the past year statewide, at least 114 residents of state schools died, 53 from preventable conditions such as respiratory failure that are "often the result of lapses in care," according to the findings. Federal officials documented incidents that included residents' swallowing Swiss Army knives and a delay of days in the reporting of a resident's rape allegation.

"We have concluded that numerous conditions and practices at the Facilities violate the constitutional and federal statutory rights of their residents," said a letter sent to Gov. Rick Perry this week by Grace Chung Becker, an acting assistant U.S. attorney general. "While specific findings vary among the Facilities, we find that there are systemic deficiencies throughout the Facilities."

The findings come after federal officials documented grim conditions at the Lubbock State School two years ago and later expanded their investigation.
The latest federal investigation found that:

• Psychiatrists do not adequately consider residents' medical issues. Earlier this year, a state school resident was praised by her psychiatric medication review team for losing weight. What the team did not seem to know was that direct-care workers had observed the resident purging.

I am not going to resist pointing out that the grand jury indictment against Cheney and Gonzales for their roles in mistreating prisoners has just been quashed. They had this sort of example to follow, providing inadequate care for public money. The state is red, remember, we don't do humane stuff.

It's good that even the low standards at the Department of Justice were not being met, and the lowhanging fruits there protested. I am sure that damages that could be claimed from victims were the reason, rather than the damages done to institutionalized people.

Okay, there are some employees at DoJ who are not appointees of the present maladministration, and I do applaud them. The scandals that have happened in incarceration, particularly of the youthful offenders, here are a lesson to all of us. We are making more problems by 'putting away' our problems. It has been too much temptation to the greedy, when the Darth faction is running around loose.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

While you - informed, thoughtful and progressive - accidentally hit upon the key cause of the system failure - the absence or failure of professional nursing care, you called nurses by an American stereotype - Nurse Ratched(the white capped, overly starched, sexually frigid, authoritarian, rigid, controlling sadist). This is at the root of the public's uninformed status about healthcare systems failure - the absence of professional nursing in healthcare reportage and in health policy debates, planning and decision-making.

What will it take to arouse the somnolent public that their health and their lives demand professional nursing care to be delivered by baccalaureate educated nurses who have autonomy and authority over - SHOCK - nursing practice and standards of nursing care?

9:59 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Annie, I freely admit that the Nurse Ratched image is a hateful one, I have a particular association with it, as I had a co-worker who was the personification of it, so laugh whenever it comes up. She was a paralegal, tho.

The nurses I know and love, go back to a friend in High School who got a horrible, disfiguring injury and loved her nurses so much for their support and care that she became a nurse. I love her dearly, still.

10:10 AM  

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