Universal Health Services: Profits Over Patients

In October 2007, news stories appeared on the death of a 17-year-old boy at the hands of staff members in a Tennessee psychiatric facility. The death was ruled a homicide. A month later, another story appeared, exposing the circumstances surrounding the death of a 14-year-old who was violently restrained by a 260-lb. staff member in the same Tennessee facility. That same month, Fox News broke the story of the death of another 14-year-old in a Massachusetts psychiatric facility, from failure to receive proper medical attention.

Investigation of these reports by the mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) found that the facilities these children died in are owned by Universal Health Services (UHS). Further research turned up numerous abuses in their psychiatric hospitals across the United States. There are 114 UHS psychiatric facilities in 33 states, two of them in Missouri: St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute and Two Rivers Psychiatric Hospital Kansas City.

The cruel and violent deaths of three children in UHS psychiatric facilities — as well as an extensive list of abuses and violations found from CCHR investigation — seems sufficient evidence that perhaps UHS is not as focused on patient welfare as they are on the bottom line, a common finding with psychiatric facilities around the world.

CCHR is not the only agency to notice these troubles at UHS. In December 2006, the Service Employees International Union issued the report “Failure to Care, A National Report on Universal Health Service’s Behavioral Health Operations,” which declares, “This report finds that UHS has disregarded the safety and recovery of the patients it serves, as well as the communities in which it operates.” A preface from the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers, states, “There is a crisis in our nation’s mental health care system…of placing earnings and exorbitant profits above the public interest at the expense of quality services to those in need. Using Universal Health Services (UHS) as an example, this report clearly documents why mega healthcare corporations such as UHS need to be held accountable….”

Read the full CCHR report Universal Health Services: Profits Over Patients at www.psychcrime.org.

If you know about abuses at a UHS psychiatric facility, or if you want to know if a particular facility in your state belongs to UHS, contact CCHR St. Louis.

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