Bill Seeks To Quell Ongoing Patient Dumping Violations
New legislation (SB 275) expected to be introduced Thursday by Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) would make it a misdemeanor for a hospital facility or worker to transport patients to a location other than their residences without the patient's informed consent, the AP/San Francisco Examiner reports.
The law would punish individual offenders by a maximum of two years in jail and a possible fine of up to $1,000. Facilities that violate the law could face penalties of up to $10,000.
State and local authorities in Los Angeles are investigating 55 cases of alleged patient dumping in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles. However, the absence of any law prohibiting such an act has made it difficult for authorities to file charges (AP/San Francisco Examiner, 2/22).
Kaiser Permanente is the only hospital operator so far to be criminally charged for a patient dumping incident. The Los Angeles city attorney last year charged a Kaiser hospital with false imprisonment, but the charge has never been tested in court.
The Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday notified hospitals that officers would arrest individuals seen transporting patients to Skid Row, charging them with false imprisonment.
CMS authorities are investigating two Los Angeles hospitals suspected of dumping homeless patients.
Michelle Griffin, branch manager for CMS, said investigators are determining whether the unnamed hospitals violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act and Medicare Conditions of Participation. The law addresses how hospitals treat and discharge patients.
If a hospital is found guilty, it could face discipline and civil penalties and risk its accreditation and eligibility to participate in Medicare, according to Griffin (Winton/Blankstein, Los Angeles Times, 2/22).