Patient dumping is the controversial practice that some hospitals employ in order to reduce their operating costs by ridding themselves of unwanted patients.
You may think that you won’t be affected by patient dumping and believe that it only affects the poor, the uninsured or immigrants. Think again.
Hospitals and other treatment centers have been testing the waters and, thus far, they have been able to get away it.
As Obamacare, known officially as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, gets up to speed, hospitals across the US will soon see their funding levels decrease, especially if they are treating uninsured patients, and will likely become more creative in their patient dumping strategy to encompass any individual, insured or not, that the hospital does not want to provide long-term care or expensive care for.
Consider the case of Sean Szymborski. The 20-year-old man has long suffered from mental health issues and was staying at the Spring Valley Treatment Center in Las Vegas. He was discharged in May and staff placed him in a Taxi and sent him to his father’s home.
His father, Lee Szymborski, had no idea his son was being released. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the elder Szymborski had demanded that his son not be released. When he arrived home, he saw a good amount of property damage, including broken windows. The damage was committed by his son.
Why did the Las Vegas treatment center release a patient that was still dangerous? Was the man uninsured or did the young man’s insurance run out? Why wasn’t anyone notified that he was being released?
Here are summaries on some other disturbing cases,
Unfortunately Las Vegas has more than it’s share of problems concerning substandard medical care. A high profile patient dumping case occurred at the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas. An estimated 1,500 patients at the hospital were placed on Greyhound buses and shipped out of Las Vegas, apparently because the hospital did not want to be saddled with the cost of caring for the patients who suffered from a variety of mental disorders and likely did not have the means to pay for the care they needed.
One way tickets were purchased for the patients dumped by the hospital and they were placed on Greyhound buses, armed with only three days worth of medication, and dumped in a city that they were unfamiliar with and had no ties to. Approximately 500 of the unwanted patients were dumped in California, who according to Sacramento Bee, were mentally unfit and indigent.
One man that authorities were able to talk to claimed that the personnel at Rawson-Neal told him he’d receive better care in California. Others showed up dazed and disoriented at various emergency rooms across the state while social workers worked very hard at trying to help the dumped patients receive needed care, locate family members, track down their social security payments and even obtain housing.
Wladyslaw Haniszewski, 68, a Polish immigrant, lived in the US for approximately 30 years. He had made his home in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Falling on rough times after losing his job, Haniszewski was living on the streets of New Jersey.
A long-time friend of his took him to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick in July and, while there, he suffered a debilitating stoke. He fell into a coma and, to this day, cannot communicate with anyone, other than an occasional smile.
Officials at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital quickly sprang into action when they realized he was an immigrant who could not pay for his medical care. They chartered a plane and shipped the comatose man to Poland, a county he had left some 30 years earlier.
The hospital did not communicate with his friends and others advocating on his behalf before shipping Haniszewski off. Friends said that he was unable to communicate since he was in a coma.
The hospital maintains that they followed protocol and somehow obtained the comatose man’s consent
(Note: A family is accusing the very same hospital (RWJ University Hospital) of refusing to allow them to see their 93-year-old family member who was on his deathbed. The family member died alone.
Jacinto Cruz and Jose Rodriguez-Saldana were working in Iowa for one of the nation’s leading pork producers and they had health insurance. They also were immigrants who were in the county illegally.
Both met were involved in a serious automobile accident and were taken to Iowa Methodist Medical Center.
The hospital was apparently concerned as to how they were going to get paid, because although the men had insurance, they were not legally permitted to be in the United States so they shipped off both comatose men to hospitals in Mexico.
In this case, they did receive consent from the family but what did the hospital officials say to them to obtain their consent? Did they employ scare tactics and tell them that their loved ones would be arrested on awakening for being in the country illegally? Did they lie and tell them they would not be able to get appropriate care in the US and it was best for them to be treated in Mexico?
Somehow they convinced the family to consent.
It’s not just patients that are shipped off to other countries bypassing immigration requirements or dumped from state to state. Sometimes greedy, bottom-line focused administrators release patients from care long before they are ready placing entire families and neighborhoods in extreme danger.
The problem of patient dumping has become so widespread that homeless shelters have observed people arriving at the facility by Taxi, with the tab picked up by the hospital.
Patient dumping is a deplorable practice that needs to end.