Texas tightens mental hospital rules

Nov. 22, 2011 at 3:41 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Texas has adopted stricter regulations for staff in state mental hospitals following allegations a child psychiatrist molested young patients.

One change is staffers accused of sexual abuse must be transferred or put on leave while the allegations are investigated, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Dr. Charles Fischer continued to work at Austin State Hospital while he was under investigation. Fischer, who denies any wrongdoing, was dismissed after state investigators concluded he had molested at least one patient.

The report has been turned over to Austin police and the Travis County district attorney but no charges have been brought so far.

Mike Maples, assistant commissioner for mental health and substance abuse services, sent a memo to the superintendent's of Texas' 10 state hospitals last week, the newspaper said.

"We have a responsibility and duty to ensure a safe treatment environment for patients and staff," Maples wrote. "Recent events have identified opportunities to provide additional protection for both patients and staff."

The changes include new regulations designed to ensure staffers will be under observation when they meet with patients. One-on-one sessions must be conducted with the door open or in rooms where other people can see what is going on.

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