Psych Patient’s Broken Neck Goes Unnoticed, and then Untreated


Diane Rodriguez sang, prayed, and bounced on her bed in California’s Metropolitan State Hospital, but was found motionless on the floor in the morning. At least an hour passed before her injuries were assessed, and four more before help was called, saying “she’s paralyzed only, not life-threatening.” She died six months later. The California Department of Mental Health has found “gross negligence”, “incompetence, fraud, dishonesty, along with numerous policy and procedure violations” in a hospital that had been repeatedly criticized for “failing to provide people with minimally adequate care.”

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].