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State audit finds lapses at New York mental health agency

New York state’s Office of Mental Health isn’t complying with a state law requiring that a parent or guardian be informed whenever a patient is injured or mistreated in a state-regulated institution, according to a state audit released Friday.

The report from auditors in the office of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli examined eight mental health facilities to check compliance with the 2007 law, which mandates notification within 24 hours whenever a patient is injured, abused or neglected. The legal guardian may also request access to investigatory reports on the event.

The audit found that officials aren’t doing enough to ensure facilities are following the law and often fail to provide requested information to parents or guardians in a timely manner.

Specifically, auditors looked at 42 incidents involving patients under the age of 18 and found that, in 20% of the cases, officials could not provide documentation showing that parents or guardians were notified.

The law, known as Jonathan’s Law, also requires the state to provide records to parents or guardians within 21 days, yet auditors found that occurred only one-third of the time.

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