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What do you know about patient dumping?

If you do not have Medicaid or health insurance, you may already know that hospitals may transfer you to a different health care facility. Were you a victim of patient dumping?

U.S. News & World Report explores patient dumping and how even new laws do not entirely eliminate the practice. Learn whether you may have a medical malpractice case to explore.

Defining patient dumping

When hospitals discharge uninsured patients and those without Medicare or refuse to care for them, they engage in patient dumping. Some medical facilities treat patients according to their ability to cover their hospital bill, or financial motivations may influence their decision to treat low-income patients. No matter the reason, turning patients away prevents patients from receiving fair access to emergency medical care.

The law against patient dumping

In 1986, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act went into effect to ensure that hospitals screen and treat emergency room patients regardless of their capability to pay, whether they have health coverage or their citizenship status. Still, medical care facilities skirt the law by transferring stabilized patients to other facilities. Even then, asthmatic patients and those with pneumonia often only require traditional intensive care. Hospitals that move these patients to other facilities may not meet the law’s definition of “appropriate transfer.” It is essential to note that some patient transfers qualify as medically necessary rather than financially motivated.

Dangers of patient dumping

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act does not account for non-emergency medically necessary treatment. That means chronically ill patients may feel they have no choice but to wait until they encounter a health emergency before seeking medical care, which may put their health at risk.

Do not allow hospitals to violate your rights. All patients should have equal access to emergency medical services.