The University of Maryland Medical Center violated a patient’s rights as well as several patient safety regulations when staff at the Midtown Campus discharged the woman in only her hospital gown on a cold January evening, according to a federal investigation.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found numerous deficiencies or failures to comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act related to the incident, according to the Baltimore Sun, which received a copy of the report.
The agency investigated the incident after a video of the woman in her hospital gown and socks at a bus stop went viral on Facebook. The person who took the video called an ambulance and the patient was taken back to the hospital ER before staff sent her home in a cab to a homeless shelter, the publication reported.
The hospital violated the patient’s rights by putting barriers to her receiving care in the ER, failing to discharge her in a safe manner and failing to protect the patient from harassment and potential harm, the CMS report said. The investigation also determined the hospital violated the patient’s rights to confidentiality of records because nonclinical staff had access to or were made aware of the patient’s medical history and physical exam findings.
Federal regulators also criticized hospital leaders for lack of oversight and awareness of problems within the organization
The CMS findings were similar to the hospital’s own internal investigation and the newspaper reported that UMMC has already changed some of its procedure based on the investigations. For example, the hospital now records every time a patient visits the emergency room, even if it’s only for a short period. Each encounter requires a new triage of the patient.
“We are confident that we are doing the right thing to move forward,” University of Maryland Medical Center CEO Mohan Suntha M.D., told the Baltimore Sun. “We look forward to when we will be able to demonstrate that to the community.”
Shortly after the incident, Suntha apologized at a press conference and said the hospital took full responsibility for the failure and noted that staff didn’t offer the patient basic humanity and compassion.