Mental hospital faces abuse probe

OSAKA — A council that screens Osaka prefectural mental hospitals inspected Yamatogawa Hospital in Kashiwara, Osaka Prefecture, April 8 over alleged mistreatment of patients.

The hospital is part of the Yasuda Hospital group, which has been raided by the Osaka Labor Standards Inspection Bureau on suspicion of failing to pay wages and other incidents of labor malpractice. The investigation by the Osaka Prefectural Mental Medical Service Screening Council follows an inspection of the facility by the prefectural government.

About 30 patients at Yamatogawa Hospital confided at the time that they wanted to be discharged, according to local government sources. Some told inspectors that the hospital refused to let them go even if they sought to be released. The prefectural government acted April 8 on the basis of written discharge applications from 16 of the patients, the sources said.

The screening council will question the patients, their custodians and their doctors, and rule on the status of the patients’ hospitalization at a meeting scheduled for late this month, they said. The Mental Health Welfare Law allows a patient who is hospitalized on a voluntary basis to leave a medical institution if so requested. About half of the 16 patients were hospitalized of their own will, the sources said.