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Nearly 100 preventable deaths over the last decade at California psychiatric facilities, Times investigation finds

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How many people die in California psychiatric facilities has been a difficult question to answer. No single agency keeps tabs on the number of deaths at psychiatric facilities in California, or elsewhere in the nation.

In an effort to assess the scope of the problem, The Times submitted more than 100 public record requests to nearly 50 county and state agencies to obtain death certificates, coroner’s reports and hospital inspection records with information about these deaths.

The Times review identified nearly 100 preventable deaths over the last decade at California psychiatric facilities. It marks the first public count of deaths at California’s mental health facilities and highlights breakdowns in care at these hospitals as well as the struggles of regulators to reduce the number of deaths.

The total includes deaths for which state investigators determined that hospital negligence or malpractice was responsible, as well as all suicides and homicides, which experts say should not occur among patients on a psychiatric ward. It does not include people who died of natural causes or other health problems while admitted for a psychiatric illness.

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Source: Los Angeles Times, 1 December 2019

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