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What is patient dumping and how is it harmful?

As you know, medical emergencies are rarely predictable. You might be taken to the hospital in an ambulance without having your identification with you, or your elderly parent might be admitted but, due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, is unable to inform the nurses and doctors of whom to contact to pick him or her up. It can be frightening to think that patients are discharged from hospitals in uncertain conditions, but unfortunately for people in Montana and elsewhere, this type of thing happens.

The practice of letting patients go from the hospital into an unsafe situation or before they are ready to be discharged is called “patient dumping,” according to Healthcare Dive. In a well-publicized incident that occurred last December in Baltimore, Maryland, a confused, disoriented woman was dropped off at a bus stop outside the hospital in freezing weather, wearing little more than socks and a hospital gown. After a concerned man brought her back inside and called authorities, an investigation was sparked. The woman’s family members were understandably upset that their relative, who had been missing and they were searching for, was treated this way.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986 prohibits medical staff from releasing patients into unsafe conditions or treating them unfairly because of an inability to pay. You and your family members deserve to be treated with compassion and respect when you seek medical attention, regardless of the circumstances. You may wish to seek counsel if you are treated negligently at the hospital; therefore, this information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.

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