State Documents Reveal Overuse of Medications and Physical Restraints at Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment

By Diana Gonzalez
|  Thursday, Nov 21, 2013  |  Updated 12:26 AM EDT
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State documents obtained by NBC 6 reveal overuse of medications and physical restraints at the Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment in Pembroke Pines. NBC 6's Diana Gonzalez reports.

State documents obtained by NBC 6 reveal overuse of medications and physical restraints at the Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment in Pembroke Pines. NBC 6's Diana Gonzalez reports.

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A South Florida psychiatric program for troubled teens has been under investigation since August.

NBC 6 has obtained the preliminary findings – state documents that reveal overuse of medications and physical restraints at the Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment in Pembroke Pines.

The investigation started after a video was released in August. It was taken in April at Citrus and shows a teenage patient being escorted down the hall. When a police offer grabs her arm she throws a punch. He then punches her right in the face.

"While she's going to the ground another officer steps in and sprays mace in her face, and then they are on top of her taking her into custody on the ground," said Gordon Weekes, the patient’s public defender, in August.

State documents reveal there is another disturbing video that has not been released. It was taken four months at later at Citrus and shows a female resident enter the bathroom and lock herself in.

A male employee who followed her unlocks the door and goes in. Another staff member enters the bathroom. Then they are seen pulling the resident by her arms out of the bathroom. She is held against the wall. Then she is put face down on a floor mat and held for six minutes, before she is carried out of view.

A nurse admitted she "dismissed this restraint" and did not document it as required by the state.

The Agency for Health Care Administration conducted a four-week-long inspection survey of Citrus’ program for teens with serious mental issues.

In September AHCA sent a letter to the administrator at Citrus in Pembroke Pines advising that "we are recommending termination of your certification to be effective December 4, 2013, which is 90 days from the date of the survey. The termination process allows you to make corrections."

Among other violations documented were that staff failed to obtain informed consent from some parents or guardians before administering psychotropic drugs, and that some staff were not properly trained in the use of restraints.

“Citrus is cooperating and working with AHCA,” said Leslie Viega, an attorney for Citrus, in a statement. “AHCA is not and has not recommended that the certificate for the CATS program be terminated. The facility remains open and continues to provide high-quality care in the best interest of this client population.”

The Agency for Health Care Administration returned to Citrus on Monday for an unannounced revisit. Its findings have yet to be finalized.

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