Patient dumping can be extremely harmful when people are taken out of a hospital and either sent to a different one, or simply dropped off at homeless shelter. While laws have been passed and heavy fines have been levied in the past decade that have somewhat cut down on the problem, there are still patients who find themselves being ushered out of hospitals and into the unknown.
Generally, there are two different types of patients who end up getting dumped: patients with mental issues, and homeless patients. Oftentimes they are dumped near a homeless shelter, or even another hospital, but in every case, the hospital who originally had them in their care just wants to get rid of them since they know that they probably will not get paid for any services that they offer them, or they may pose a hazard to other patients and staff.
Why hospitals continue to dump patients.
Even though laws are in place to prevent patient dumping, some hospitals continue the practice, though in a more misleading manner. A Las Vegas psychiatric hospital has recently been accused of busing psychiatric patients off to different cities, without much regard to how they get continuing care. This is done primarily because the hospitals just do not want to take care of the person anymore. That might mean that they may be functioning relatively well in a controlled environment, but it rarely means that they will be able to function normally once they get back out into society.
Very few hospitals actually dump their patients, the vast majority of them follow proper procedures when they transport patients to either other hospitals or their home. The hospital dumping episodes that do happen come from a handful of hospitals where the practice is systemic.
What can be done to stop hospital dumping.
Since there are laws on the books that exist to stop dumping, but clearly haven’t completely eliminated it, the court system may have to step in to start awarding large punitive damages to patients who have been illegally dumped. Fines for hospitals that dump a lot of patients still haven’t reached the point where facilities will actually start following the law. A $25,000 fine may be a drop in the bucket for a hospital that goes through many patients a day, even psychiatric hospitals where many of the patients are there on the government’s dime. However, a judgement of several million dollars awarded directly to a victim may be enough to cause administrative changes and ensure that hospitals start following laws designed to eliminated patient dumping.
Stopping hospitals from dumping patients on the streets benefits everyone, especially the people who need treatment. Stronger laws, harsher fines, and awards for victims, can go a long way in curbing patient dumping. Putting these into place may take time, but it is well worth it.