Six year old locked up
Here are some clips from an article about a six year old boy locked up for three days in a mental hospital.
A police cruiser pulled away from the elementary
school this September. Inside was a person so dangerous
that the officer was carting him off to a psychiatric
hospital, which locked him up for three days.
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|JACKSONVILLE, Florida A police
cruiser pulled away from the elementary school this
September. Inside was a person so dangerous that the
officer was carting him off to a psychiatric hospital,
which locked him up for three days.
That person was 6 years old.
His parents said he had merely thrown a tantrum.
The sheriff deposited the boy, Nicholas, at River Point Behavioral Health, a troubled unit of the nations largest psychiatric hospital chain, Universal Health Services. UHS was the subject of a recent BuzzFeed News investigation, which found that current and former employees from at least 10 of the companys hospitals in nine states said they were under pressure to fill beds by almost any method and to hold patients until their insurance payments ran out. Nicholas was covered by Medicaid, the government insurance program.
At River Point, Nicholas would be given a bloody nose by another child, get locked in a seclusion room at 3 in the morning, and wait more than 24 hours to see a psychiatrist, according to medical records provided by his parents.
River Point is under criminal investigation for Medicare fraud as part of a wider federal probe into UHS as a corporate entity, the company told investors. Federal regulators have been looking into whether River Point misused Floridas involuntary commitment laws to hold patients at the hospital who did not need treatment. What happened to Nicholas raises renewed questions about whether River Point has been holding patients improperly.
Nicholass records show that his parents asked at least three times to take him home, to no avail.
In fact, the hospital filed a petition to get a court order to hold him for longer. Nicholas was released only after a lawyer intervened on his behalf. (To protect Nicholass privacy, his parents requested that their names not be published and their son be identified only by his middle name.)
The company has denied the allegations of civil or criminal fraud and said it is cooperating with the governments investigation.
At 6 years old, Nicholas was under 4 feet tall and weighed less than 55 pounds. Diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, he was seeing a therapist as well as a psychiatrist to treat his conditions but had never shown any suicidal or homicidal behavior, according to his parents. Nicholas sometimes refused to listen to teachers or do his work at school, and he would occasionally hit people when he got frustrated or angry. That day, according to Nicholass father, a counselor decided to send the boy to a psychiatric hospital after he had been kicking and biting. (The counselor did not return phone calls seeking comment.)
Floridas commitment law, known as the Baker Act, allows a person to be sent to psychiatric hospital for an examination if that person seems mentally ill and appears at risk of causing severe harm to themselves or others. Once patients are transferred to a psychiatric hospital, it is the facilitys responsibility to determine if they truly need to be hospitalized. The law authorizes the hospital to hold patients for up to 72 hours to examine them, but it must release patients who arent likely to inflict serious bodily harm on themselves or others.
The law is clear: Locking a patient on a psychiatric ward is the last resort, meant only for the most serious cases. If any less restrictive treatment is appropriate, it must be used.
It was lunchtime when the police cruiser delivered Nicholas to River Point Behavioral. His mother first heard what had happened in voicemails that both the school and counselor had left for her. River Point called, too, wanting her consent for Nicholass treatment since he was a minor, his mother recalled. She said she declined.
It felt like my child had been kidnapped.
I didnt want him to be there at all, she told BuzzFeed News, adding that she immediately asked the facility to release her son because he was so young and didnt need to be there. This initial request is not documented in Nicholass medical records. His mother said she was told she would not even be able to see her son until later that evening during visiting hours.
It felt like my child had been kidnapped, she said. I cant even hug my kid and tell him its going to be okay.
Unable to calm him, staff took him to the seclusion room just after 3 a.m.
(In other words solitary confinement, I suppose)
In response, Nicholas yelled, kicked,
and hit the walls. He threw the pillow that was on the
bed in the room and pulled the mattress off as well,
using it to block the window into the room. It took
nearly an hour until he stopped screaming, according to
his medical records. Around 4 a.m. he seemed calmer after
he sat down and accepted a snack. Shortly after that, he
was let out of the room.