L.A. ‘Patient Dumping’ Case Gains National Attention
Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has begun an investigation into whether hospitals in the city leave homeless patients who are discharged on "Skid Row," a 50-block area with a high rate of violent crime, illicit drug distribution and prostitution, USA Today reports. According to USA Today, "There has been a string of episodes over the past two years in which indigent patients were released by Los Angeles-area hospitals onto some of this city's toughest blocks after being medically discharged."
In the latest incident, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center employees allegedly left a quadriplegic homeless patient on Skid Row who later was found crawling through the streets without a wheelchair and wearing a broken colostomy bag.
Delgadillo has said that Hollywood Presbyterian has refused to cooperate with his investigation.
Hollywood Presbyterian spokesperson Dan Springer said that the contract driver violated hospital policy when he left the patient on Skid Row. In addition, Springer said that the contract driver took the patient to Skid Row at his request after Hollywood Presbyterian emergency department staff determined him "physically capable of leaving." He added that Hollywood Presbyterian has not refused to cooperate with the investigation but has sought to protect the medical privacy of the patient (Welch, USA Today, 2/16).
The hospital on Thursday released the patient's medical records to the city attorney's office (Los Angeles Times, 2/16).
Delgadillo said, "This hospital (Hollywood Presbyterian) should have known he did not have the mental capacity to make a decision." He added that the incident "makes my stomach turn."
Los Angeles City Council member Jan Perry, whose district includes Skid Row, said, "It is unconscionable to treat a human being in such a callous manner" (USA Today, 2/16).