Lawsuit: Nebraska mental hospital violated state rules

July 10, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A psychiatrist at Nebraska’s state psychiatric hospital is alleging that the state violated rules and regulations in diagnosing and treating mentally ill patients.

Dr. Farid Karimi of Lincoln Regional Center is suing the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and two former supervisors, Stacey Werth-Sweeney and Dr. Roger Donovick.

Karimi alleges that he reported procedural and medical violations several months after he started working at the center in February 2016. The lawsuit states that Werth-Sweeney and Donovick didn’t take any action to correct violations and instead retaliated against Karimi. The two employees left him out of meetings, made false accusations against him and negated his orders, according to the lawsuit.

Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Julie Naughton declined to comment on pending litigation, which is being handled by the Nebraska Attorney General’s office.

Werth-Sweeney, formerly the center’s chief operating officer, was fired in June and Donovick, the psychiatric director, left the center last year. Werth-Sweeney said Karimi has a troubling resume and history of service at the center. She said she expects “the evidence to disclose serious, persistent problems with Dr. Karimi’s practice, including his attendance at work and patient records.”

Patients may be sent to the facility by court order or by local mental health boards. The lawsuit lists alleged violations such as changing patient orders, following outdated policies, denying patient visitation rights and moving patients against court orders. Karimi also alleges that the facility failed to use passive restraints on patients who needed to be on highly restrictive status, which resulted in repeated assaults on staff.

Karimi seeks unspecified damages and the removal of all disciplinary actions from his record. He claims that the defendants damaged his reputation in the community and workplace.

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