Texas takes over hiring at mental health hospitals

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas health department has taken over hiring authority of all doctors at its 10 mental health facilities following newspaper reports that psychiatrists were hired with a documented history of sexual misconduct.

The Austin American-Statesman reports (http://bit.ly/zuRl8q) that an Austin-based administrator for the Department of State Health Services must review and approve psychiatrists before they are hired. The policy was being implemented this week.

The hospital staff can still interview and select candidates, but final approval will no longer be up to hospital superintendents.  Health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams says the decision "boils down to adding more checks and balances to protect patients."

In December, the Austin newspaper reported that the state knowingly hired three hospital psychiatrists with a documented history of sexual misconduct.