Violence is rising at California’s Atascadero State Hospital, built to treat mentally ill criminal offenders, reports NPR. It’s gotten worse since 2006, the year the state signed an agreement with the federal government to put in a detailed new treatment plan. The 92-page plan resulted from a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation that found serious problems: abuse and neglect of patients; substandard care; and lousy record-keeping.
While the plan has produced some improvements, violence is up at three of the four hospitals covered by the plan. At Atascadero, it’s gone up 36 percent. One employee who was attacked in 2008, a year with more than 1,000 violent incidents at Atascadero, blames the plan the hospital was forced to adopt after the Justice Department’s investigation. She says it drove a wedge between the staff and the patients by requiring massive amounts of documentation. “Spending more time on paperwork than you are treating the patient,” she says. “That’s really the security problem right there.”