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Patient Dumping Incident in Maryland

Legal News GavelNo one should be denied emergency medical care due to an inability or perceived inability to pay for it. If you or someone close to you has been injured due to patient dumping, a skilled Baltimore hospital negligence attorney can help. At Arfaa Law Group, we are dedicated to getting our clients the justice and compensation they deserve for their harm.

Earlier this year, a video showing four hospital security guards at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore dropping a patient off at a bus stop in freezing weather, wearing nothing but a hospital gown, went viral. The 22-year-old patient with Asperger Syndrome was a victim of “patient dumping.” Patient dumping can take place in a number of ways, including but not limited to situations in which a hospital:

    • Turns away someone in need of emergency care;
    • Transfers a patient when unnecessary;
    • Discharges a patient before they are stable;
    • Transfers a patient without providing sufficient medical care first;
    • Discharges a patient early; or
    • Excessively delays emergency medical treatment.

Unfortunately, patient dumping most often happens when hospitals think that a patient cannot pay for care, is uninsured or underinsured, or has a condition that the hospital is not equipped to treat or address. In other cases, victims may be turned away because they are under-documented or undocumented immigrants

The 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) makes it illegal for a hospital that accepts Medicare to turn a patient away and refuse treatment. In fact, EMTALA requires that if a patient comes to the hospital, the hospital is required to perform a medical screening exam. If the exam reveals an emergency, the hospital is required to provide treatment that would, at the very least, stabilize the patient or transfer the patient to a facility that could do the same. The hospital is not allowed to turn the patient away due to inability to pay.

If you or your loved one has suffered adverse health consequences due to patient dumping, you may be able to recover damages through a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice takes place when a medical professional causes injuries or death by failing to use the level of care and caution that a reasonably prudent medical professional would have used in the same or similar circumstances. In order to win a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff has to demonstrate the following by a preponderance of the evidence:  i) the medical professional owed the patient a duty of care; ii) the medical professional did not adhere to the duty of care owed; and iii) the medical professional’s failure to adhere to the duty of care was a direct cause of the patient’s harm.

In addition, hospitals violating EMTALA will be investigated by state agencies that can mandate the hospital create a plan to correct the situation. If the plan is not put into place, the hospital may lose their ability to partake in Medicare.

If you or someone close to you has been harmed due to the practice of patient dumping, you need to reach out to a skilled Baltimore hospital malpractice attorney who can help. At Arfaa Law Group, we are committed to getting our clients the compensation they deserve for their harm. With years of experience, we know how to navigate even the most complex medical malpractice claims. If you have any questions or concerns, call us at 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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