Investigation Uncovers Louisiana Housing Mentally Ill Patients in Nursing Homes


According to a two-year investigation recently concluded by the Justice Department, Louisiana has been unnecessarily isolating and segregating thousands of mentally ill people in costly nursing homes instead of actually providing them with much-needed medical attention. In doing so, the state has been violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and arguably injuring thousands of innocent people every year.

What is even more disturbing is that many of these individuals expressed an interest in living in their own homes or more appropriate community settings. As a result, the Justice Department may now file a lawsuit in order to ensure that the state of Louisiana starts complying with federal law. However, this still does not adequately address the individual injuries that each person forced into these homes has experienced.

A Longstanding Problem

Louisiana has found it challenging to provide inpatient and home and community-based care for people with mental illness for many years now. As a result of various decisions made to place the disabled in nursing homes over the years, it now has one of the highest percentages of people living with mental illness in nursing facilities in general. Not only does this cost state taxpayers approximately $7,000 more per person, but it is arguably harmful for the individual with the mental illness and for others who live in the nursing home and actually belong there. Yet, the state has been placing approximately 1,000 individuals who simply need assistance with their mental illness in these nursing home facilities every year.

Previous Litigation

Louisiana is not the first state to make these decisions: In 2010, a class action lawsuit was filed alleging that thousands of Texans with severe mental disabilities were confined to nursing homes with no access to rehabilitative services. Similar to what the Justice Department has now indicated when it comes to Louisiana, that lawsuit alleged that the Governor and state social services officials violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide treatment to thousands of people living in nursing homes.

In fact, claims alleged in the Texas class action lawsuit echo many of the concerns brought up by the Justice Department in addressing this issue in Louisiana; namely, that many of these people were receiving proper care for their disabilities in their homes or in the community, but were mistakenly sent to nursing homes after they were hospitalized for illness.

Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Louisiana

Personal injuries are not just physical injuries associated with car accidents or negligently-produced products; they occur every day when poor decisions are made that end up injuring people mentally and emotionally and denying them the medical care they need.

We at Harrell & Nowak have helped many personal injury victims throughout Louisiana obtain financial compensation for their injuries, helping them get back on their feet. We work to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair recovery. Contact us today for a free consultation.