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As a result of scathing news articles concerning Georgia's psychiatric hospitals, state officials are responding to problems in the system highlighted in a series of interim reports released by the state's independent auditors. The move to examine the state hospitals follows an investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which found cases of abuse, neglect and mistreatment and deaths of hospital patients with mental illness (see MHW, Jan. 29).
Officials at the Georgia Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases earlier this year contracted with the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta to prepare an independent audit of the state's seven psychiatric hospitals with the ultimate goal of improving the delivery of mental health care in the state. This was in response to the media reports about mistreatment and abuse at the hospitals.
The Medical College has prepared interim reports of the state hospitals with plans to publish a more comprehensive master plan that would serve as guideline to address priority areas, such as staffing shortages, a growing forensic population and quality of care concerns.
The recommendations cited in the reports may be changed, supplemented or expanded upon in the final document when the system-wide evaluation is complete. A comprehensive report is expected in a few months, said officials.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is visiting four of the state hospitals, including Central State Hospital, the state's largest psychiatric facility, according to …