Jun 20, 2016
Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles agreed to a settlement of $450,000 after they left a homeless patient in the street upon discharge while the patient still needed medical help. While the hospital did not admit fault, they are the fourth hospital since January 2014 to reach a settlement regarding the improper “dumping” of homeless patients for a total of $1.9 million in settlements.
While the hospitals do not need to follow specific protocols, they cannot “dump” patients into the street. City Attorney Mike Feuer stated that patients are especially vulnerable upon their release and must be treated with dignity. Feuer wants hospitals to adopt encompassing protocols for homeless discharges in order to ensure that they have access to community resources. A few facilities have agreed, but the situation is far from resolved. The problem of abandoned homeless patients near the downtown area of Skid Row has dogged the city for years.
This specific case involved a homeless patient who was left on the streets in December 2014 although he still suffered from a visible leg infection. He was given only a bus token and was later readmitted to treat the infection.
Despite the settlement, the hospital denies the claims and said they only settled to avoid a drawn-out lawsuit. They insisted that they are committed to providing quality patient care to everyone who they treat.
The matter first gained media attention in a separate case when a surveillance camera in the area recorded a 63-year-old woman wandering the streets in her hospital gown and slippers in 2006. A Kaiser Permanente hospital released her despite untreated health issues. The following year, a paraplegic man in a dirty gown dragged a ruptured colostomy bag as he moved along Skid Row with his hands. Law enforcement officers reported that Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center had dropped him off there. Those cases were also settled out of court.
A medical facility and its staff have a responsibility to patients to provide them with proper care. If they fail to do so, they could be held financially liable for related costs and for pain and suffering. If you need legal assistance due to the negligence or mistreatment of a hospital, doctor or their staff, contact our law firm for help.