A Los Angeles, California hospital has reached a $450,000 settlement with the City of Los Angeles over allegations that it engaged in patient dumping when it released a homeless man and gave him a bus token in December 2014 after he was treated for a severe infection of his foot, and failed to provide the man with an after-care plan. The man’s infection later worsened and he sought treatment at another hospital.
The hospital where the alleged patient dumping occurred has agreed to donate $100,000 to the nonprofit Integrated Recovery Network, which helps the homeless find housing and provides other support. The hospital also agreed to pay $300,000 in civil penalties and costs, and to pay $50,000 to fund recuperative repair facilities.
Nonetheless, the hospital denied the patient dumping allegation and issued the following statement:
“Los Angeles has experienced a sharp increase in the homeless population. Hospitals like Good Samaritan Hospital provide emergency services to homeless patients, and struggle to place homeless patients when they are discharged because of the inadequate resources to meet their housing and medical needs.
“Los Angeles City alleged that Good Samaritan Hospital failed to comply with the laws governing the discharge of homeless patients, allegations that the hospital disputed. However, rather than expend its limited resources on protracted litigation, Good Samaritan Hospital agreed to settle the dispute by making payments to L.A. City and L.A. County that the hospital hopes will be used to help address the homeless population needs, and to a community organization that is dedicated to helping homeless patients. Good Samaritan Hospital also agreed to continue its practices of providing excellent care to homeless patients and attempting to provide appropriate placement following discharge.
“Good Samaritan Hospital remains committed to providing accessible, quality, cost-effective and compassionate health care services that meet the needs of our patients, their families, the community and our physicians. Our goal is to deliver the best possible care to anyone who comes through our door.”
The hospital also agreed to adopt new discharge protocols for treating and releasing homeless patients that the city attorney’s office has promoted.
The U.S. Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”) in 1986 to prevent hospitals from “dumping” patients in need of emergency care (“patient dumping” is defined as hospital emergency rooms denying uninsured patients the same treatment provided to paying patients, either by refusing care outright or by transferring uninsured patients to other facilities). The EMTALA applies to all hospitals accepting Medicare.
Section 489.24 of the EMTALA requires (with regard to hospitals with emergency departments) that if an individual (whether or not eligible for Medicare benefits and regardless of ability to pay) “comes to the emergency department,” the hospital must provide an appropriate medical screening examination within the capability of the hospital’s emergency department and if an emergency medical condition is determined to exist, provide any necessary stabilizing treatment.
Amendments to the rules regarding the EMTALA were enacted in 2000 and revised in 2003 that further refined what is meant by the term “comes to the emergency department” and expanded the responsibility of hospital emergency rooms to respond to any presentation on the hospital “campus,” which was defined by the so-called “250-yard rule.”
If you or a loved one may have been the victim of “patient dumping” in California or elsewhere in the United States, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries, losses or harm caused by the illegal action.
Click here to visit our website or telephone us toll free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be willing to investigate your patient dumping claim for you and represent you with regard to your patient dumping claim, if appropriate.
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