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Patient Abuse Leads to Probation for University Hospitals of Cleveland

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The pyschiatric unit of University Hospitals of Cleveland was placed on probation by the Ohio Department of Mental Health after a grand jury indicted Herman Brown, a UH employee since April of this year, on multiple counts of rape, kidnapping, gross sexual imposition and sexual battery. “The hospital on May 18 acknowledged the rape of one patient after Brown’s arrest. But the Ohio Department of Mental Health said Friday that four patients were sexually assaulted.”

The state agency has put UH on probation, citing its failure to provide patient safety, staff supervision or appropriate background checks of workers.
Brown had worked at the hospital since April even though prior felony convictions should have prevented him from working there. The hospital said a temporary agency that provided Brown failed to conduct a proper background check.

State law requires that individuals employed in a capacity such as Mr. Brown, must clear a criminal background check before they are offered a position. In particular, this is a necessity when an employee will be exposed to and trusted with the care of vulnerable patients in an unstable mental or emotional state. Most mental health professionals would agree that this is a necessary safeguard which should always be followed. In this situation, Mr. Brown had a felony record and under no circumstances should he have been offered the position or the opportunity he was given by University Hospitals which provided him the unsupervised access to the victims. It is the very reason the laws requiring employment screening and background checks were put into place.

The fact that UH was relying on an employment agency does not excuse the hospital from responsibility for the injuries suffered by these innocent victims. Both the agency and University Hospitals should step up and right this wrong. Both entities must provide full public disclosure as to the circumstances of just how this reckless error occurred in order to assure steps can be taken preventing such a grave error from occurring again. The agency and hospital must also address the harm done, in accord with state law, by compensating the victims appropriately for the harm they have suffered including the cost of treatment to date, the pain they have experienced and their mental anguish as well as for their future needs including the necessary treatment and care required to heal these open wounds from the incident and to learn to live with the ugly scars which they will carry with them indefinitely.