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Patient assault draws new probe of Montana psych hospital

March 30, 2022 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Federal investigators visited Montana’s state psychiatric hospital for an inspection following an assault that reportedly left a patient with severe injuries.

The inspection by officials from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was reported by the Montana State News Bureau. It comes amid staffing shortages and other problems that resulted in patient deaths and have put the hospital in Warm Springs in jeopardy of losing its federal reimbursement.

The female victim of last week’s assault by another patient was life-flighted to a Missoula hospital, the news outlet reported.

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Federal officials confirmed investigators visited the hospital on March 25 but declined to provide further details while the inspection results were under review. State officials also are investigating the assault.

Bernadette Franks-Ongoy with the advocacy group Disability Rights Montana said the assault underscores the need for state officials to act to ensure the hospital is safe for its patients being treated for serious mental illness.

Four hospital patients died from October through February, three because of COVID-19 and another after frequent falls.

Another patient died in August 2021 after staff ignored her complaints that she couldn’t catch her breath. CMS found hospital officials did not properly investigate her death.