A Troubleshooters Investigation report from WAVE News has exposed a shocking practice of patient dumping in some Louisville Kentucky hospitals. Patient dumping is generally defined as discharging patients who are uninsured or unable to pay – or refusing to admit them in the first place.
The report, which went viral on social media, showed footage taken from back in December of a female patient still in a soiled hospital gown and slippers, breathing hard under a blanket placed over her in 36 degree weather. Her belongings were in a bag next to her, indicating she was dumped on the road like trash.
The WAVE News reporters also witnessed another elderly woman with a walker being dumped by security in the middle of the night. They interviewed a homeless man who was in need of medical care but was also dumped by the hospital.
Why are Louisville Kentucky Hospitals Dumping Patients On Street Corners Like Trash?
The report did not name the hospitals involved, but it said they were affiliated with the University of Louisville. The report also said that the hospitals claimed they were following the law, and that they had no choice but to discharge patients who had no place to go.
The report said that the federal government has fined several hospitals across the country for violating EMTALA, and that some patients have sued hospitals for patient dumping, and won millions of dollars in damages.
For example, a federal jury in Louisville awarded $2.4 million to a tow-truck operator who was turned away by Baptist Hospital Lexington when he was suffering from a dangerous type of heart attack in 2015. The hospital said it had to divert heart-attack patients, because it did not have any cardiothoracic surgeons on call, but its own medical expert conceded it did not meet the standard of care.
Another jury in Floyd County awarded $2.4 million to a behavioral therapist who claimed Highlands ARH Medical Center retaliated against her after she refused to go along with an alleged scheme to boot out suicidal, psychotic and homicidal patients when their insurance coverage expired, usually after three days. The therapist said she was directed by supervisors to persuade patients they were no longer psychotic, suicidal or homicidal so they could be discharged.
Patient dumping is not only a legal and ethical issue, but also a humanitarian one. It exposes vulnerable people to further harm and neglect, especially during harsh weather conditions. It also undermines the trust and confidence that people have in the health-care system.
The WAVE News report called for more accountability and transparency from the hospitals involved, as well as more collaboration with community organizations that can provide shelter and support for homeless patients.