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Dumping patients from the ER is more common than you think

When your loved one goes to the hospital, you want only the best care for him or her. It would be appalling to find out that your relative received substandard treatment or was released before he or she was ready into an environment that might result in harm. Unfortunately for many patients in Delaware and elsewhere, this scenario is all too common.

A practice known as “patient dumping” occurs when hospitals discharge patients in unsafe conditions, and it may be illegal.

Recent incident brings patient dumping to light

You may have heard about this story: A man who worked near a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, received a shock recently when he witnessed security guards leading a disoriented woman from the emergency room, wearing only socks and a hospital gown, and leaving her at a bus stop in freezing weather. He filmed the incident, challenging the guards, who told him they were only doing their job. After the man called authorities, the hospital readmitted the woman briefly, and her family later picked her up at a homeless shelter.

It will probably dismay you to learn of similar incidents occurring across the country, including one in which a diabetic man was struck by a car and permanently disabled after hospital personnel gave him vague directions on getting home by bus. Reportedly, the man was not medically ready for discharge, and he stumbled into the street because he could barely stand. In another incident, homeless patients in Nevada claimed hospital staff put them on a bus and sent out of state.

Releasing patients into unsafe conditions may violate law

You may find it interesting that in 1986, a federal law prohibited hospitals from discriminating against patients who are unable to pay, and from discharging them into an unsafe environment. Even so, many hospitals continue the practice of patient dumping.

If hospital staff mistreated or prematurely discharged your loved one, you have the right to seek justice.

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