Advocacy group sues Arizona State Hospital over patient record access

The Arizona Center for Disability Law filed a lawsuit against top officials at the Arizona State Hospital, a public psychiatric hospital in Phoenix, on Sept. 12, alleging they refused to provide the group access to the facility, patients and records, according to an ABC 15 report.

Under federal law, agencies like the ACDL are allowed to access patient files and investigate claims of neglect and abuse as part of their work to advocate for patients, according to ABC 15. However, ACDL alleges that hospital officials repeatedly denied ACDL's unaccompanied access to patients and their files for several years.

"If the Arizona State Hospital can choose which of their residents ACDL can speak to, listen in on our conversations, limit our access to the places and people they want us to see, then no one will ever know what's happening to the people we cannot see behind the doors," ACDL attorney Chris Carlsen said in a statement to ABC 15.

The lawsuit mentions "peer review records," or internal files, as some of the key records at issue. Arizona officials, however, claim those records are confidential under state law.

The Arizona Department of Health Services, which runs the Arizona State Hospital, declined ABC 15's request for comment on the lawsuit, but provided the news outlet with the following statement:

"The Arizona Department of Health Services does not comment on pending litigation. That said, the top priority at the Arizona State Hospital is to provide the safest and most therapeutic environment possible for our patients. The department acts vigorously to protect patients under our care and their privacy."

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