October 01,1999

Roth Announces Hearing on Use of Restraints at Mental Health Facilities

Joins Lieberman, Dodd at Press Conference Announcing Results of GAO Study

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today announced that the Finance Committee will hold a hearing later this fall to examine the use of seclusion and restraints in mental hospitals. Roth made the announcement at a press conference Friday morning hosted by Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who had requested a study on the issue by the General Accounting Office. The study, released by Lieberman and Dodd today, reported that patients have died from the use of restraints and seclusion in mental health facilities, and that the deaths could have been avoided.

"Hospitals should be places of safety and healing," Roth stated. "And thanks to millions of skilled professionals, medical care in the United States is the best in the world. But the concerns Senator Lieberman has outlined suggest that we rededicate ourselves to continued improvement, particularly in the area of mental health.

"The GAO's report that avoidable patient deaths have resulted from use of seclusion and restraints in mental health hospitals is not only starkly disturbing, but it demands our immediate attention.

"Senator Lieberman has been working on legislation to build protections into the use of seclusion and restraints, and the Health Care Financing Administration has issued regulations designed with the same goal in mind.

"As Chairman of the Finance Committee, it's my intention to hold a hearing on the issue this fall. We will all benefit from an objective presentation of the facts.

"In that hearing, we will hear from the GAO, from HCFA, and from Senator Lieberman. In addition, we will include the perspectives of providers and patient advocates.

"It will be a meaningful forum -- one that will help us determine how to proceed.

"I appreciate Senator Lieberman