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Fact-checking deaths at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center

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Posted at 11:37 AM, Apr 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-13 11:37:54-04

Accredited fact checker Politifact says Assemblyman Michael Kearns pants are on fire.

Assemblyman Kearns is fighting to prevent the closure of the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center in West Seneca. Kearns has called for a federal investigation into the Buffalo Psychiatric Center and is trying to prevent children from the West Seneca facility from moving into the adult center.

Kearns claimed 76 people died at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center between June 30, 2013 and March 31, 2016, according to Politifact.

But the state says the investigation is unnecessary and Kearns' claim is not completely true.

Facilities like the Buffalo Psychiatric Center are required by the state to report the number of deaths both on-site and away from the facility, according to Politifact. Both inpatient and outpatient deaths are recorded. Even non-patient deaths are recorded as long as the person received care at the facility within 30 days of their death.

This means that a person receiving outpatient care who dies in a car accident is recorded by the psychiatric center. Even someone who may have died of natural causes after being released from the facility will be noted by the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, as long as they had received treatment 30 days or less before their passing.

So while 76 deaths were in fact recorded in the three year period, it's not exactly a representation of the facility's ability to take care of its patients, according to Politifact.

"Please by advised that we do not track where the death occurred, since a death could occur in a location that is not under the jurisdiction of the Justice Center such as in an emergency room," the Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs said in a statement.

The state Office of Mental Health confirmed only 13 deaths in the three year period happened on the Buffalo Psychiatric Center campus and all were due to natural causes. The other 63 deaths did no happen at the facility and could be unrelated to any treatment they received. The state did not have a breakdown of how many of the 63 deaths outside of the facility were still patients at the time of their deaths.

Politifacts official ruling says Kearns statement that 76 patients died at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center between June 2013 and March 2016 is misleading, rating his statement Pants on Fire.