Local News

Official: Deaths in State Hospitals Should Be Reported

Posted February 27, 2008 2:23 p.m. EST

— Dempsey Benton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday that he would support legislation that would require all deaths in state psychiatric hospitals and other facilities be reported to the Office of the State Medical Examiner.

"I don't have any problem with that," Dempsey said during taping of a News & Observer/WRAL-TV program "Headline Saturday."

"I think we do need to do a better job with reviewing those tragic situations and making sure that how we operate is known and understood by the public."

State law requires that all deaths of people in police custody, jails or prisons be reported but there is no requirement that "natural" deaths in psychiatric hospitals be reported.

The interview with Benton will be broadcast on WRAL Saturday at 7 p.m.