A Buzzfeed Investigation
In late 2016, Buzzfeed published an in-depth investigation of mental health hospitals and the mental healthcare system in America. One of the articles in the series, Locked in the Psych Ward, uncovers how the nation's largest provider of psychiatric services, Universal Health Services, “turns patients into profits.”
Reported by Rosalind Adams, the article (published on December 7, 2016) tells the story of patients being kept against their will at several UHS hospitals. Adams interviewed 175 current and former UHS staff, as well patients, government investigators and experts. Employees described how “they were under pressure to fill beds by almost any method—which sometimes meant exaggerating people’s symptoms or twisting their words to make them seem suicidal.” The motives were financially driven. It should be noted that Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital was acquired by UHS in 1996, one year after they emerged from bankruptcy.
From the article:
"I would like to go home," she told a nurse.
She said she was not aware of it at the time, but one of the documents she had signed the previous night granted her consent to be hospitalized. Now the nurse said they couldn't release her without a doctor's permission. Hospital records show that at 6:05 that morning, Trimble filled out a form requesting to be let go. Texas rules say that within four hours of filling out that form, patients must be discharged, unless a physician finds cause to hold them against their will. A doctor instructed the hospital to hold Trimble. It was 4:30 in the afternoon by the time she met with that doctor, the first one she had seen since she was admitted.
At the meeting, which Trimble estimates lasted about 10 minutes, the doctor denied her request to go home. "You've been converted to an involuntary commitment," Trimble recalled being told.
Records show that her treatment plan listed an estimated stay of five to seven days, in line with the five days Trimble’s insurance company had approved.
It's a bit of a long read, but it's worth it if you're interested in learning more about fraudulent involuntary commitment and systemic abuse. Do you have a similar experience? Tell us your story here.