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Is patient dumping illegal?

It has been in the news recently--the concern over patient dumping due to recent occurrences in Baltimore. You may wonder if something like that has happened in Montana. You may also wonder if it is as huge of a problem as the media has made it out to be. Do healthcare facilities really just discharge patients and leave them on their own when they know they have mental health issues or no place to go? Is this practice illegal?

According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, patient dumping specifically refers to a healthcare facility discharging or transferring mentally ill patients just to get rid of them. Congress has enacted many laws that help to prevent patient dumping. It is a violation for healthcare facilities to engage in the activity, but that has not stopped it from happening.

In fact, it has just led to more deceptive ways of doing it. For example, a hospital may transfer all mentally ill patients to other hospitals simply to get them out of its facility. Usually, such cases involve the hospital not helping with any plans for future care or ensuring the proper care would be delivered.

There is still, obviously, work to be done. Lawmakers continue to find ways to prevent this from happening even as new stories about patient dumping hit the news. Some areas may see bigger issues than others, especially overcrowded areas, but that does not mean it does not happen in all areas. This information is for education and is not intended as legal advice. 


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