If you or a family member needed to go to the hospital, would you be assured that you would not be forced to leave until staff was sure you had a safe way to get home? The thought of being pushed out of the emergency room in unsafe conditions sounds unspeakable, yet it occurs more often than you think in hospitals across the country, including in Illinois.
Let us say your father had chest pains and called an ambulance, but he was also suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. After a few hours of observation, he was told his pain was nothing to worry about and given a discharge. However, he is disoriented when he is discharged and cannot remember his address or family members’ phone numbers. Since neither he nor any of the medical staff was able to contact a family member to pick him up, someone from the hospital dropped him off at a nearby bus stop.
This type of scenario is known as “patient dumping,” and it may risk patients’ health or personal safety. Some recent examples include the following:
- A woman suffering from mental illness was left at a bus stop outside a Baltimore, Maryland, hospital wearing nothing but a hospital gown and socks.
- Numerous patients from Nevada filed a lawsuit after they were discharged from the hospital and put on buses to be sent out of state.
- A man with diabetes was unable to stand or walk, yet he was discharged, stumbled into the street and was hit by a car. He sued the hospital after suffering a disabling skull fracture.
Dumping patients before they are physically ready to walk or function, or without having a safe way home, may violate a federal law that requires that patients are discharged into a safe environment. You and your loved ones have the right to be treated with dignity and respect when you visit the hospital, which includes the way you are discharged.