- The city of Los Angeles has settled its third patient-dumping case this year with Adventist Medical Center. The system admitted no wrongdoing, but will pay $700,000 after being accused of dropping a homeless patient at the downtown district known as Skid Row to avoid costs associated with refuting the claims. Two other hospitals have settled similar cases this year: Beverly Hospital for $200,000 and Pacifica Hospital of the Valley at $500,000.
- The Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General has closed eight settlements regarding patient dumping in 2014. The most recent was Saint Joseph's Medical Center in Yonkers, NY, which allegedly refused to treat a patient in its emergency department.
- The Hospital Association of Southern California is working with the city to help hospitals create protocols for proper discharge of all patients, largely because the city's hospitals have a record of allegations in this area: In 2006, Kaiser was reported to have prematurely released a homeless woman onto Skid Row.
The hospital "We chose to resolve this matter to avoid the very high cost of refuting these allegations so that our medical staff can focus on what it does best — provide high-quality patient care," said the hospital in a statement. "Glendale Adventist Medical Center has always been deeply committed to providing appropriate discharge options to all patients and we have adjusted our policies to further align with the City of Los Angeles' specific protocols for the discharge of homeless patients."
Even though hospitals claim to have patient discharge protocols in place, it doesn't seem to be stopping them all from dumping homeless patients who can't afford to pay for the cost of recovery. Some hospital leaders may feel that their facilities cannot afford to maintain a large number of recovering patients indefinitely.
With hospitals expanding out into population health, it appears that homeless patients—particularly in urban areas like Los Angeles—are going to have to be included in those efforts. Hospitals will need to link with community resources, supportive and mental health services and housing. But the scope of the problem is not insignificant. According to an article in the Los Angeles Daily News, services for homeless patients are spread out in the county, and massively over-faced: 6,000 emergency beds in shelters are tasked with caring for nearly 60,000 homeless individuals.
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