University of Maryland hospital under fire after video of patient discharged in only a gown goes viral

Patient and nurse in hospital
The University of Maryland hospital's CEO, Mohan Suntha, M.D., apologized after a video of a woman discharged from the facility dressed only in her hospital gown went viral on Facebook.  (Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

A Maryland hospital is under fire after a video of a woman discharged from the facility in her hospital gown went viral on Facebook. 

The video, which had nearly 30,000 shares as of Friday morning, shows multiple security guards from the University of Maryland Medical Center's Midtown Campus, including one with a wheelchair, walking away from a downtown Baltimore bus stop.  

The woman, who is in a hospital gown and socks, is nearby, as are several plastic bags filled with what appear to be her belongings. The Facebook post notes the cold temperatures at the time of the woman's discharge. 

The hospital's CEO, Mohan Suntha, M.D., apologized for the incident at a press conference on Thursday, The Baltimore Sun reported.  

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"We take full responsibility for this failure," Suntha said, adding that the hospital didn't offer "basic humanity and compassion" to the woman in the video. 

UM Medical Center is not the first hospital accused of "patient dumping," or releasing homeless, mentally ill or other vulnerable patients back into the streets. Concerns about compliance with patient dumping regulations in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act led to a 2014 federal investigation into the matter

The investigation followed several reports of patient dumping in Oregon and California that led to legal settlements. 

The trend, however, is not tracked by federal officials on a nationwide or local basis, so it's hard to determine how often it happens. 

Officials at the Baltimore hospital declined to provide specifics on the case of the woman in the video, but Suntha said she received appropriate care while in the hospital and the incident was postdischarge, according to the Sun.

It is difficult, he said, for large urban hospitals to address the social needs of many of their patients. 

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Hospitals are increasingly called on to address the social determinants of health, which can include housing or food insecurity, mental illness or other factors that are far beyond the hospital walls. 

Major players in the healthcare industry, like the National Quality Forum and Aetna, have called for better, more instructive guidelines on how providers can best serve the social needs of patients.