Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Warns Hospitals of Patient-Dumping Investigation
The Los Angeles city attorney's office on Thursday will send letters to hospitals in the city warning them of an investigation into allegations that area hospitals routinely transport some discharged patients to downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports. The investigation comes after a Los Angeles Police Department report last month named several area hospitals that take patients downtown.
The city's attorney office will review records at the Union Rescue Mission and other social service agencies in the area to examine the circumstances in which discharged patients are being left.
Hospitals maintain they drop off only patients who are healthy enough to be discharged. However, LAPD officers say they often see people with hospital wristbands who appear ill and sometimes wearing colostomy bags on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo on Wednesday said the investigation could lead to criminal charges or lawsuits if it is found that patients have been taken downtown against their will.
In the letter -- written by Jeffery Isaacs, chief of the city attorney's criminal and special litigation branch -- hospitals are asked 10 questions about the types of patients they admit, policies regarding the transfer or discharge of homeless patients and whether hospitals send patients to social services agencies in downtown Los Angeles.
The letter also asks whether the hospitals have identified any violations of the federal Emergency Medical Transfer and Active Labor Act involving homeless patients. The law requires all patients to be screened and stabilized before being released or transferred from hospitals.
In addition, the letter cites a law that allows corporations to be sued for unfair business practices and allows the government to legally request that corporations face fines or be forbidden to take certain actions if they are found guilty of unscrupulous behavior.
Delgadillo would not say which hospitals are under investigation (DiMassa/Winton, Los Angeles Times, 12/22).