A patient at Kingwood Pines Hospital suffered severe lacerations after jumping out of a glass window and escaping from the facility Tuesday morning, according to Houston police.
The escape is the latest in a string of troubling incidents in recent years that have raised questions about patient safety at the 116-bed psychiatric hospital, which was the site of a teen riot late last year. The hospital has also weathered multiple lawsuits alleging sexual assaults of juvenile patients.
First-responders found the 39-year-old patient — who police have not identified — less than a mile from the hospital after receiving a 911 call from a person who reported reported seeing the man walking down Masters Way with underwear or a towel wrapped around him.
He was subsequently taken to Ben Taub Hospital and placed under an emergency detention order, which officials said generally means a 48-hour hold. He had previously been admitted to Kingwood Pines on May 1 on a separate emergency detention order, police said.
Local authorities said it’s unclear why the patient tried to escape but that they do not plan to investigate the incident.
Officials at Kingwood Pines Hospital confirmed the incident.
“Our facility promptly called 911,” Kingwood Pines CEO Shanti Carter wrote in an email. “The patient was quickly located by police and was taken to the local ER. We thank the police department for their swift assistance.”
Officials with the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies health care organizations and programs in the United States, could not confirm whether officials from Kingwood Pines had reported the Tuesday escape.
A long history
Tuesday’s escape comes five months after a hours-long riot at the hospital staged by six teenagers. Boys and girls in the hospital’s adolescent unit were “throwing things against the walls, fighting, screaming and fighting the staff.”
The hospital has been sued twice over the past decade over allegations of sexual assault against juvenile patients. In 2010, lawyers sued after a 13-year-old said she was assaulted by her roommate. In 2018, another 13-year-old said she was one of two teens assaulted at the hospital by two other patients.
The facility was taken over in 2010 by Universal Health Services, a for-profit nationwide medical chain that owns dozens of psychiatric hospitals across the nation, including three other Houston-area facilities. Reached by email, the company did not comment by late Tuesday.
Since 2011, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has cited Kingwood Pines for 11 violations of state rules governing patient care, with its most recent inspection in October, according to CMS reports. Records show the facility “failed to ensure patients had the right to receive care in a safe setting” and failed to “ensure the nursing care of each patient.”
An Oct. 1 report shows medical staff in March 2018 noticed a patient had a small bruise on his neck, but did not investigate the incident.
“No further information regarding this incident was documented,” inspectors noted. “No incident report was completed. No notification was provided to supervisors, physicians, or guardians. No investigation was completed regarding the bruise.”
An Oct. 23 report found that three months of staffing sheets from the summer of 2018 were incomplete, and that it was unclear which nurses and nursing personnel were assigned to each patient, or how many and which patients were on special precautions, such as those assigned one-to-one with staff.
“It could not be determined if the nursing care of each patient was assigned in accordance with the patient’s needs and the specialized qualifications and competence of the nursing staff available,” inspectors wrote.
Tuesday’s incident highlights challenges facing private psychiatric hospitals in Texas, said George Santos, a local psychiatrist who has run two Houston-area facilities.
“The state of inpatient psychiatry is dangerous,” he said. “It’s a mixture of lack of beds, lack of choice, and managed care pressures wanting the shortest stay possible, driving acuity so you only get care when you’re in the most critical state. … It’s a formula for bad things to happen.”