Kaiser Charged With ‘Patient Dumping’
The Los Angeles City Attorney's office on Wednesday filed criminal charges against Kaiser Permanente for illegally transporting a discharged homeless patient to the downtown neighborhood Skid Row, the Los Angeles Times reports. The attorney also filed a civil lawsuit against Kaiser for unfair business practices related to the incident.
City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo charged Kaiser with false imprisonment and dependent-care endangerment after a discharged patient from Kaiser's Bellflower hospital in March was videotaped being dropped off by a taxi in Skid Row wearing only a hospital gown and socks. The patient was not told by the hospital that she was being dropped off in Skid Row, according to the court document.
The lawsuit seeks a court order to enforce financial penalties if a Kaiser facility dumps a homeless patient in Skid Row. If guilty, Kaiser also would be placed on probation.
Diana Bonta, vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Southern California, said, "I can't understand how these charges would be levied based on what I know of the incident." She added that since the incident was brought to Kaiser's attention, the HMO has "been talking not only with the city attorney's office" but also working with agencies that provide services to homeless people.
Bonta said Kaiser also has modified its discharge procedures for homeless patients.
City prosecutors are investigating 10 area hospitals that are suspected of similar incidents.
In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and Public Counsel, the largest pro bono law firm in the nation, plan to bring a second lawsuit against Kaiser on behalf of the discharged patients involved in the March incident (Winton/DiMassa, Los Angeles Times, 11/16).