61 sue NME over past psychiatric treatment

61 sue NME over past psychiatric treatment
Company cites changes, new management

By Tracy Everbach / Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News
Published 10-18-1994

Sixty-one plaintiffs sued National Medical Enterprises Inc. on Monday, alleging that they were “lured or forced” to its psychiatric treatment centers as part of a fraudulent scheme.

The suit, filed in state District Court in Dallas, alleges that the company and several of its subsidiaries and former psychiatric hospitals subjected the plaintiffs – most of them children – to confinement, restraints, strip searches and unwanted sexual advances and harassment.

The defendants, according to the suit, “were motivated not by a desire to provide competent and appropriate psychiatric care to plaintiffs, but by greed.”

National Medical has sold or closed most of its psychiatric hospitals and is under new corporate management, said company spokeswoman Diana Takvam.

“The lawsuit stems from past problems,” she said. “For the last 15 months, NME’s management has acted aggressively and resolved the problems. But the new NME may face further litigation based on the actions of the old NME.”

National Medical has been sued in the past two years by many former patients alleging that they were hospitalized unnecessarily so that the company and others could profit.

The psychiatric division of the Santa Monica, Calif., company pleaded guilty in June in Washington, D.C., to paying kickbacks to health care workers for patient referrals to its psychiatric hospitals. The company paid the government $362.7 million in restitution and fines.

National Medical also paid 19 insurance companies $214 million to settle claims of fraud and paid fines to 28 state governments, including Texas.

Former company vice president Peter Alexis, also named as a defendant in Monday’s lawsuit, pleaded guilty in June to federal criminal charges and admitted that he paid more than $20 million in bribes for patient referrals to National Medical’s Dallas and Fort Worth-area hospitals.

Most of the plaintiffs in Monday’s lawsuit were hospitalized at various times between 1982 and 1992 in Psychiatric Pavilion of Fort Worth and Brookhaven Psychiatric Pavilion in Farmers Branch, said attorney Parks W. Bell. He and the law firm Baker & Botts filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs.

The suit alleges that many were pressured into hospitalization and some were abused. For example, the suit alleges that a 6-year- old boy’s treatment included his being restrained to a bed with leather straps for hours at a time.

And a 16-year-old girl’s parents were falsely informed that their daughter, who had a learning disability, was suicidal, the suit says. She was hospitalized for more than a month until a family lawyer ” secured her release,” the suit says.

The suit says that some patients received therapy “in which a number of staff members forcibly held a patient’s back to the floor while verbally taunting and beating the patient in the rib or chest area.” The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages. They allege fraud, battery, assault, negligence, violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.

Comments (8)

Former PatientMarch 7th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I was one of those 61.
It has been over 20 years since my hell inside Brookhaven. As I read the articles and comments posted on this site and hundreds of others, I get angry.
The procedures, changes and qualifications for staff that we were promised have obviously been disregarded.
To read a 16 year old was held in 4 point restraints for “hours”, probably means “day’s”.
I should know, I spent over 250+ days in them.

Parents never “got it”.
The more “points” ( 4 point is the average tie down, wrist and ankles. It can go up to 12+ point with a full body net on top )the more they charge your insurance company.
Same with suicide precautions, elopement precautions, electro and more.
Those require added attention from staff not included in your daily “rate”.

I am ashamed to have kept my mouth shut all these years. Even after reading direct testimony from Doctors that treated me and it being BLATENT lies, none of us could say a word.
We were scared, they made our lives a living hell and fed on our insecurities throughout the years leading up to the “deal”.
All they did was try and keep us all quiet, it worked.

I don’t keep in touch with many people from that time in my life.
I have attended a few funerals and get an email every now and then from someone just “checking in”, but thats very rare.

Not a day goes by, even 20 years later, that I dont think about that place. I just take a zanex and wait for the anxiety to subside.
Researching and keeping myself up to date with private “hospitals” is the way I seem to deal. (Please don’t send me any advice. I have tried everything.)
There are so many out there who are being investigated, it seems to have just gotten worse.

The standards, staff, practices, and integrity of any hospital should always be questioned if a loved one is in their care.
I know there are some great facilities out there that do want to help. I am just sorry to say I was not lucky enough to have been placed in one.

All The Best

Former patientJuly 30th, 2009 at 3:35 pm

I was also one of the 61. I still do not understand how it happened. There was no one to help me there was no one to protect me. I have kept my much shut I don’t care anymore. I mean what are they going to do??? They have done the damage. The money we where given (yes a large sum)did not make me feel better. I had a nervous breakdown but no doctors I do not and will never trust them. It was BLOOD money.I just blew threw it.Everything comes back to this. Because of them I did not finish high school. Because of them I married at 16 to get away from my mother I was afraid of getting put back in. Because of them my daughter died (i was pregnant when i was admitted.)I spent 19 years in a marriage where I was abused and held hostage. Because I was afraid to stand up for myself. It has taken 20 years for me to even start dealing with what they did to me. I stand now back where I started all those years ago. I have finally taken charge of the life that was ripped from me. We are real people we where hurt we where raped we where beaten we where tied to beds with masks put over us. But we survived Brookhaven and we will survive.

Robert NelsonAugust 14th, 2009 at 10:15 pm

I was admitted to Brookhaven Psychiatric Pavillion in 1985. I am not one of the “61″ so have received no compensation, but remember well the atmosphere and mind set that lead to far worse and more serious abuses later on. Back then, a psychiatrist’s word was gold and it seemed as if there was nothing anybody could do to thwart it. On my very first day, even back then, I was thrown into restraints simply for pounding my fist on a table when one of the orderlies said I had to refrain from conversing with some of the people I had just met. I was only 19 and wanted to make friends. They took my dignity away by restraining a young man in all the glory of his youth for several weeks over nothing. Eventually, at one point, I was able to break free of my restraints with the help of one of my “friends”, but it did me little good as I was tied back down again. The only consolation I have, after all of this time, is knowing that some of the people my age locked up there with me saw what I had gone through and remembered me enough to talk with me about it many months afterwards and empathized enough with me to help me cope with it. Had it not been for them, this period in my life would have been an unmitigated disaster, a horror story out of Hollywood set in a big city where many people should have been listening, but few apparently were. In any case, it’s over now and far worse was suffered by those unfortunate enough to have been placed there later on. Now, all I can do is write about it.

AmySeptember 23rd, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I was also one of the 61. I often think of the other children (I have a 15 y/o and he is definitely still a child) who were in there with me and I hope that they are doing okay. I have been on permanent disability for 13 years for agoraphobia and depression. It is difficult to function as a productive member of society to this day!

To the girl two posts up I would like to say I am glad you are still alive and you seem as well as one can be considering what you endured. Learning to stand up for myself has been a particularly hard lesson for me as well. I am in 12 step recovery and this has been a tremendous help for me in gaining back some of my self-worth and the ability to have healthy relationships with people and especially with myself.

I still cry sometimes when I think of the treatment that certain patients received. I do not know how any of those staff members could go home and sleep at night after what they participated in during the day.

Former patientSeptember 23rd, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Amy,
I am glad I am still alive too! I understand crying over the things that happened there. I was wondering do you jump when someone touches you, or a loud noise. I do, I believe its from not being allowed to touch anyone. The only human contact we had was with a Dr. Rush. Or by talking to each other though the ele outlet. Though I rarely got to do that since they made me sleep in the day room where they could watch me. Suicide watch I was not going to kill myself it was more like that way I did not have a roommate. Glad to see other people talking about this I wish you nothing but the BEST…

AmySeptember 28th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

It is good to hear back from you, Former Patient ;-) . Yes, I do still startle at unanticipated touch and sounds. I cannot really pinpoint the exact cause of this, but I am pretty sure that not being able to touch others in BPP played a role in this.

I had some pre-existing conditions before entering the hospital (Depersonalization and general anxiety). I believe that the doctors took advantage of these issues and intentionally exacerbated them in order to capitalize from the extra restrictions they could place on me for ‘acting out’.

Unfortunately, knowing who to blame does not make these problems go away. I cannot emphasize enough how important REAL therapy and 12 step recovery programs have been to rebuilding the integrity of my damaged psyche. While I may always struggle with anxiety, being around people for extended periods of time, and staying present rather than dissociating at the slightest hint of emotion, I can honestly say that I am happy and content today.

I wish you the best too. Take care of yourself. You deserve happiness.

Daniel YoesDecember 18th, 2010 at 5:00 am

I was a patient there not sure if anyone remembers me as I wasn’t there for years, luckily for me my insurance wasn’t that great so the moment it ran out I was released. I was in the first room on the left. My mom was told I needed to go in for immediate observation but the short term ward was full so I went into the long term ward. Probably my biggest regret was not saying a proper goodbye when I left so whoever remembers me Id like to say thanks for being as supportive and friendly as you could be in that restrictive environment where we were forced into making up stories that weren’t true out of fear of being tortured both mentally and physically. Luckily I got out just before it made me crazy. Sitting in chairs all day in silence only to make up problems in group will make anyone have issues. I hope all of you the best!

marj DahlJanuary 5th, 2011 at 1:01 am

I was in there at age 12 in 1982 suffering from depression. Spent amonth of murdering hell iI will never forget or forgive them for their arrogant ignororance or cruelty.Luckily insurance ran out and got the best doctor and mentor months later.I wont go on with details but there are many countless things that happened to me. I came in there so innocent and so damaged when Icame out.Do you ever wonder if those monsters who worked that place ever think about what they did.

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