Both federal and California law prohibit health care facilities from discharging a patient with a life-threatening condition because of an inability to pay. Researchers, however, found that hospitals transferred uninsured or government-insured patients to other facilities.
According to U.S. News and World Report, after stabilizing patients admitted to their emergency departments, some hospitals transferred them to a nonprofit facility. Patients would then receive lesser-quality medical attention than if they remained at the first hospital.
The law requires transfers to be medically necessary
Patient dumping generally implies turning an individual away or transferring them for nonmedical reasons. The researchers analyzing emergency room admissions discovered that staff often transferred or discharged patients based on financial incentives.
Under federal law, a hospital may transfer a patient only if it cannot provide the necessary treatment. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ website notes that a transfer is also legal when a patient requests it.
Los Angeles County nursing home settles $275,000 lawsuit
An L.A. County nursing home settled a lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney alleging patient dumping, neglect, abuse and denial of care. As reported by MyNewsLA.com, the facility agreed to pay civil penalties of $275,000 as a result of its harmful actions. Prior to the legal action, some elderly residents with life-threatening illnesses found themselves on the street. Others landed in facilities that provided poorer quality care.
Patient dumping may cause considerable harm to older individuals in need of long-term or residential care. Patients or their families may file a legal action for damages to obtain financial relief for the harm caused by a facility’s abusive practices or negligence.