Los Angeles Considers Suing Hospitals for Patient Dumping
The Los Angeles City Attorney's office is preparing to sue as many as 10 hospitals that are suspected of illegally dumping discharged homeless patients downtown on Skid Row, according to two sources, the Los Angeles Times reports.
City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said that he would like to create a mandatory system governing the discharge of homeless patients, but hospitals have resisted an agreement because they said the regulations are too strict. Hospitals also objected to a proposal that the American Civil Liberties Union monitor the agreement.
Delgadillo said that hospitals are declining to restructure their practices and that some facilities have said they would close their emergency departments if costly regulations are implemented.
The city attorney's office is investigating whether hospitals that transport patients downtown are in compliance with the federal Emergency Medical Transfer and Active Labor Act and a state law governing corporate business practices.
The city attorney also could file criminal charges, according to the Times. Possible charges include false imprisonment and "dependent adult" abuse.
A state law that prohibits patient dumping within city boundaries will take effect in January 2007 (Winton, Los Angeles Times, 11/8).