Alleged ‘Patient Dumping’ Documented
Los Angeles authorities on Wednesday released a videotape of alleged "patient dumping," showing a woman wearing a hospital gown and slippers in downtown Los Angeles near a mission, the Los Angeles Times reports. The woman had been a patient at Kaiser Permanente's Bellflower Medical Center for three days.
The video, which was recorded Monday afternoon, was taken by a "dumping cam" mounted outside the Union Rescue Mission. Cameras were installed after the Los Angeles Police Department accused hospitals and other law enforcement agencies of taking people to downtown Los Angeles. The mission has been submitting tapes and written logs to the city attorney's office detailing alleged dumping incidents.
In the video, a taxi makes a U-turn, and then drives out of the camera's view. A short time later, the patient appears from the same direction as the cab, wandering for about three minutes in a busy street and then on the sidewalk before a Union Rescue Mission worker takes her inside the building, the Times reports.
The woman said she could not recall what happened when she left the hospital or how she got to downtown Los Angeles.
LAPD Capt. Andrew Smith said he believes the woman was taken there against her will (DiMassa, Los Angeles Times, 3/23).
Diana Bonta, vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Southern California, apologized for the incident and said Kaiser "will immediately take action to make sure this never happens again."
The city attorney's office is investigating whether this and other alleged patient dumping incidents violate laws that bar hospitals from discharging sick patients or moving patients without consent (Laidman, Los Angeles Daily News, 3/23). The city attorney's office also has told other area hospitals that they could face investigations and possible criminal charges related to patient dumping.
In addition, city officials are examining the causes of patient dumping in downtown Los Angeles. Hospitals have said that it is their only option when discharging homeless patients who need services that are concentrated in the downtown area (Los Angeles Times, 3/23).
Sen. Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) has introduced legislation that would prohibit leaving homeless people or those in need of drug treatment or mental health services outside their home jurisdiction.
Los Angeles officials in a letter to hospital executives on Wednesday said they support changing state law to make it more difficult for hospitals to take homeless patients to the downtown area (Los Angeles Daily News, 3/23).
In related news, the Los Angeles city attorney's office on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against two downtown hotels accusing them of "regularly shuffling" residents in and out of their rooms within 28 days to prevent them from becoming legal tenants and receiving certain rights under state law, the Times reports.
Advocates for the homeless say the so-called "28-day shuffle" compromises the stability of people with mental illnesses or drug problems who are trying to stay off the streets (Winton/DiMassa, Los Angeles Times, 3/23).