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DRAZ Files Lawsuit against Arizona State Hospital for Denied Access to Patients

Abuse & Neglect, Mental Health
for Immediate Release

On September 12, The Disability Rights Arizona (DRAZ), formerly Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) filed a lawsuit against the Arizona State Hospital (ASH) and the Arizona Department of Health Services for refusing to provide access to the facilities and patients of the ASH system.

Under the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act, DRAZ is required to monitor the conditions of facilities housing individuals with mental illness, and investigate incidents of abuse and neglect in those facilities. DRAZ alleges that ASH has impeded their ability to accomplish this mandate by denying them unaccompanied access to the facility and its residents.

“If the Arizona State Hospital can choose which of their residents DRAZ 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,” said Chris Carlsen, Staff Attorney.

The PAIMI Act also authorizes DRAZ to have access to records, including peer review records, when investigating abuse and neglect.  Peer review records are documents related to internal investigations of accidents, injuries and deaths of patients. Peer review records also include descriptions of investigations.

In this case, DRAZ alleges that ASH has repeatedly denied their request for records related to the death of an individual in the facility, preventing DRAZ from determining whether that death resulted from abuse or neglect.

“Without access to peer review records relevant to DRAZ’s investigations of potential abuse and neglect of ASH patients, DRAZ cannot accomplish our mandate to investigate abuse and neglect, or prevent future incidents of abuse and neglect of ASH patients,” stated Asim Dietrich, Staff Attorney.

Review the complaint HERE.

About the author: Natalie Luna Rose is the Communications and Outreach Manager for DRAZ. 


Over 30 years, DRAZ has worked to advance the rights of Arizonans with disabilities to promote and protect their legal rights to independence, justice, and equality.

At DRAZ, our vision is clear: to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensure their full and equal rights, and to also be the place where a diverse mix of talented people want to come, to stay and do their best work serving our clients. We envision a society where all people with disabilities enjoy full acceptance without barriers.