Imagine getting a phone call that your mother, who lives in a nursing home and suffers from dementia, was located at a homeless shelter after being treated at the hospital. Even worse, think about how you would feel if you found out the hospital staff had called a taxi for your mother, since she had no identifying information with her, and instructed the driver to take her to the shelter. At the law offices of Lee M. Schwalben, M.D., J.D., LLC, we feel that the practice of “patient dumping” should never happen to patients in Louisiana or anywhere else, but also know that it is an unfortunate occurrence in hospitals across the country.
You may remember the story of a mentally ill woman who was discharged last December from a Baltimore, Maryland, hospital in freezing weather wearing only a hospital gown. Reportedly, hospital staff escorted her to a bus stop and left her there. HealthCare Dive explains that patient dumping often happens before patients have fully recovered or are adequately treated. It is especially prevalent among the most vulnerable patients – those without identification or medical insurance.
Also interesting is the fact that patient dumping may violate a 1986 law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which forbids hospitals from releasing patients into unsafe conditions or discriminating against them for being unable to pay. Everyone, including you and your family members, deserves to be treated with dignity and given adequate medical care in an emergency, as our page on hospital negligence explains.