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Hospital Accused Of Dumping Homeless Patient In Street To Pay $450,000 Settlement

Good Samaritan Hospital (rendering courtesy of Ware Malcomb)
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A Los Angeles hospital will pay $450,000 and agree to strict patient release protocols to settle allegations that they abandoned a homeless patient.Good Samaritan Hospital, located in the Westlake neighborhood near downtown, agreed to the settlement over a December 2014 case that accused the hospital of releasing a man treated for a foot injury with only a bus token, according to the L.A. Times. The hospital is accused of leaving the patient without getting his written consent to be dropped off somewhere besides a residence and leaving him in a spot where his health was endangered, according to City News Service.

The facility admitted to no wrongdoing with the settlement, and denies the allegations. L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer announced the settlement on Thursday, and says it is a part of a larger effort by the office to go after hospitals suspected of improperly discharging patients in recent years.

"Patient dumping is inhumane and must be stopped," Feuer told the Times. "The public perception that this only happens on skid row, but as this case illustrates it can happen in other neighborhoods too."

Once the city attorney's office learned of the incident, the man was readmitted to the L.A. County-USC Medical Center. "His condition had gotten a lot worse," Feuer told the Times.

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The $450,000 settlement will go towards homeless care, civil penalties and additional costs. $100,000 of that will go towards Integrated Recovery Network, local nonprofit that helps homeless people with housing, healthcare and jobs. $50,000 will be directed to an account for recuperative care facilities, which assist homeless patients who have been discharged from hospitals and outpatient care.

Good Samaritan also must establish and adhere to new protocols for discharging homeless patients following the settlement. They have also agreed to train employees about services for homeless and mentally impaired patients.

While Feuer says some facilities can be uncooperative when faced with similar patient dumping allegations, the hospital in this particular case has “agreed to take the necessary steps to ensure some of our most vulnerable residents are protected.” The Times points out that six years ago when other hospitals were being criticized for dumping, Good Samaritan received praise for working closely with a homeless service provider.

The city attorney's office is continuing a case against Gardens Regional Hospital in Hawaiian Gardens, which is accused of dumping another patient on skid row in 2014. Freuer is also working with other hospitals to try and establish protocols to prevent patient dumping. Some hospitals contend that they are restricted by laws that allow them to only confine severely psychotic homeless individuals. And while state law requires that discharge policies for the homeless, some say they there is often nowhere to send them following treatment.