Kaiser Settlement in Patient-Dumping Case Could Become Model
Kaiser Permanente on Tuesday announced that it would institute new rules for discharging homeless patients, pay fines and make charitable contributions to settle allegations that a Kaiser hospital illegally discharged a homeless patient and transported her to Skid Row, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The proposed settlement with the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office likely would result in the office dropping all civil and criminal charges it has filed against Kaiser in the case.
The proposal has been submitted for review to Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz and a court-appointed guardian for the homeless patient at the center of the case.
The settlement calls for Kaiser to:
- Pay $5,000 in civil penalties and $50,000 in investigative fees to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office;
- Register homeless patients in a special log;
- List homeless patients' belongings and return the possessions upon discharge; and
- Direct physicians, nurses and social workers to evaluate homeless patients' mental faculties and refer them for tests when necessary.
In addition, Kaiser would donate $500,000 to a local charity to administer other provisions of the settlement, including:
- Developing an electronic system that lets hospitals monitor beds in homeless shelters throughout Los Angeles County;
- Establishing a free legal clinic to help homeless people get health care benefits; and
- Boosting the number of beds in the county available to homeless people for recuperation.
Lourdes Baird, a former U.S. attorney for Los Angeles and a retired U.S. District Court judge, would oversee Kaiser's compliance with the agreement. Baird would have the authority to convene hearings on the case, order documents to be provided and make recommendations to a Superior Court judge in Los Angeles.
The presiding judge has not been appointed.
Provisions of the agreement are set to last for three years, but Kaiser could petition to drop them after a year if the HMO can show that it has complied with the terms of the settlement.
KPCC's "KPCC News" on Tuesday reported on the settlement.
The segment includes comments from:
- Rocky Delgadillo, Los Angeles city attorney;
- Benjamin Chu, president of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California region;
- Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California; and
- A Los Angeles Police Department captain (Stolze, "KPCC News," KPCC, 5/15).
Audio of the segment is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.