- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Workers at a state-run mental health hospital in Yankton violated patients’ rights by misusing restraints to control potentially unruly subjects, a federal inspection concluded.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began an unannounced inspection of the facility in late February. The agency found that hospital employees excessively used restraints and failed to document the reasons, The Argus Leader newspaper reported (https://argusne.ws/1sIsvVi ). One patient was kept restrained for almost six days.

“These deficiencies resulted in safety risks, violations of the patients’ right to be free from undue restraint and failure to ensure privacy for patients,” inspectors wrote in the report.

The misuse of restraints was among dozens of problems flagged in the report, which included details classified as “horrifying” by Phyllis Arends, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Sioux Falls.

The state has addressed the problems, according to Department of Social Services spokeswoman Tia Kafka.

“We submitted a plan of correction that was approved by CMS and have made the necessary changes,” she said.

Federal officials visited the hospital last week for a follow-up inspection, but did not release details or comment on whether previous problems had been resolved. State Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti said the federal officials did find the implementation of the changes satisfactory.

The federal investigation comes as the hospital grapples with security and turnover issues. An Argus Leader Media investigation found that workers have logged more than 1,000 injuries attributed to combative patients since 2010, and that employees have left the hospital at a rate of about one every three days since July 2008.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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