A man's post regarding a woman who was evidently "dumped" by hospital personnel on the street wearing just a hospital gown has since gone viral, as it highlights the problem on "patient dumping." The problem has existed for years despite efforts to ensure proper medical care for all.
Dumped On The Street
Last Jan. 10, Imamu Baraka posted about a woman's ordeal that he witnessed outside the University of Maryland Medical Center. The video shows a woman moaning and pacing at the side of the street wearing nothing but a hospital gown in frigid weather. As it turns out, the woman named Rebecca was a patient at the hospital but was wheeled into the bus stop by the facility's security guards. Eventually, a 911 call by Baraka led medics to simply return the woman to the very hospital from where she came.
Baraka, who is evidently a Doctor of Healthcare Administration student, opted to share the video of the woman in order to give her a voice in the matter. In the post, he pasted the vision and mission of the hospital and asked them to do better.
Laughed At By Hospital Staff
The woman's mother also stated in an interview that while she was calling the hospital to inquire regarding the state of her daughter, staff allegedly hung up on her, laughed at her, and told her to just email the hospital as she was going to get the same response from everyone. She revealed that her 22-year-old daughter had bipolar disorder and Asperger's syndrome and expressed her disappointment with the hospital and with the mental health system in general.
Baraka's Facebook post has since gotten over 18,000 reactions, 51,000 shares, and over 2 million views. In a statement, the University of Maryland Medical Center has admitted their failure in caring for the patient and share the disappointment of the millions who have seen what the woman went through.
"We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action," said the hospital in a statement also posted on Facebook.
Patient Dumping And EMTALA
Patient dumping isn't exactly a new problem in health care. In the past, hospitals were not obligated to treat every patient who entered the facility and were even able to refuse certain patients without any specific reason. Generally speaking, the term "patient dumping" may be used when a hospital either refuses to provide medical care to a patient or opts to transfer them to another medical facility upon finding out that they do not have insurance or any other means to pay for the treatment.
In 1986, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) was enacted in an effort to ensure that all people could have the treatment they needed. However, it lacked the funding it needed until the year 2000, when it was made by a priority, and years later amended to add penalties to violators. Under it, hospitals are required to attend to the needs of everyone who enters the emergency room, must provide examination and treatment for stabilization, and provide proper transport to another facility should they be unable to provide proper treatment and stability.
Under EMTALA, patients also have the federal rights to file complaints against violators of the act. Unfortunately, despite the enforcement of the EMTALA, insufficient regulation, a lack of funding, and varying state laws are evidently still insufficient to prevent cases of patient dumping.