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Family of missing Tucson High teacher files complaint against treatment center

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Posted at 10:04 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 11:45:31-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - The search for Elizabeth Breck continues.

It's been more than a month since the Tucson High teacher went missing. Her brother, Christopher, says she checked herself into Sierra Tucson for a 30-day trauma treatment on Jan. 10. She left the facility on Jan. 13.

RELATED: Family shares new details in disappearance of Elizabeth Breck

Now, Breck's family has filed a complaint with the Arizona Department of Health Services, claiming Sierra Tucson failed to follow their own treatment guidelines for evaluation periods. He says his sister spent just two full days there.

"They didn't follow their standard procedures, which is a 3-day time period," Christopher said. "It's ensuring that person is safe to themselves, which includes flight risk."

Christopher says Elizabeth did not sign herself out of Sierra Tucson.

"That doesn't make any sense for somebody that's been to treatment facilities before, and has checked herself out. You know, you sign something, you get your stuff, and you leave."

KGUN spoke with a mental health expert on what is legal when leaving a treatment facility.

"So it depends very much on the circumstances, how a person's brought to a facility, and that determines whether or not the medical staff has the possibility to keep them there, against their will," Clarke Romans with NAMI of Southern Arizona said.

The complaint also states the lack of video surveillance at Sierra Tucson is detrimental to the missing person's case. Christopher said Elizabeth, along with other patients, wore a bluetooth-style tracking bracelet at the facility. According to the complaint, the bracelet was removed and destroyed.

AZDHS confirms a complaint has been received from Sierra Tucson, but cannot comment on ongoing investigations.

In Dec. 2016, Sierra Tucson was fined $1,500 after two residents were discharged with a wrong list of medications, according to AZDHS. The facility also failed to follow physician's orders for a resident for testing, and did not ensure medications were dispensed per physician orders.

Breck's family has hired a private investigator who is working with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office. There are no new leads in the case.

Sierra Tucson released a statement about the complaint on Wednesday morning:

“We adhere to privacy regulations requiring that patient information be kept strictly confidential. Sierra Tucson is an adult treatment program accepting voluntary patients. The safety and wellbeing of our patients is our top priority and we are committed to our longstanding legacy of providing clinical excellence and compassionate care.”