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LA hospital pays $450,000 after 'dumping' homeless patient in street

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer called the practice of patient dumping “unconscionable”.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

A LOS ANGELES hospital will pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that it “dumped” a mentally ill homeless lady in the street, wearing only simple paper pyjamas.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer called the practice of patient dumping “unconscionable” and said on Twitter this week that the matter “will not be tolerated”.

The city sued the Gardens Regional Hospital and Medical Center in April 2015, stating that its employees had driven the 38-year-old woman suffering from schizophrenia and other mental disorders to a welcome centre for the homeless in the city’s Skid Row district, then left her there in her paper hospital pyjamas.

The woman, who was also diabetic and asthmatic, had no money, medical prescription or identity papers and could not be admitted. She thereafter wandered the streets for hours before someone reported her to the authorities.

Feuer announced on Monday that the city and hospital had settled the suit, which alleged that the same woman had been abandoned in the same way at least five times before.

The medical centre is among a number of Los Angeles metropolitan hospitals prosecuted in recent years for patient dumping.

Skid row 

Skid Row is home to thousands of homeless people living in tents or out in the open, many with mental disorders.

“Homeless people suffering from mental illness who wander these dangerous streets are particularly vulnerable to victimisation and exploitation,” the lawsuit said.

The hospital, which admitted no guilt under the settlement, has filed for bankruptcy and is currently being purchased by another entity.

Feuer said the suit was about “more than just suing hospitals for monetary settlements which we’ve donated to providers of homeless services”.

Rather, he said, it was aimed at encouraging hospitals to adopt homeless patient discharge protocols.

© – AFP, 2016

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