Most people hate having to go to a hospital and if they are like me, it’s avoided at all cost. It has to be a real emergency to get me to a hospital. It’s not just the expense, which is a huge factor to many, but it’s just the overall experience. They want you to rest, but then they keep waking you up to check your vital signs or give you some medication, so you rarely get a good restful sleep. Then we’ve all heard the horror stories of someone going into the hospital and catching a drug-resistant superbug and dying. Don’t forget the reports that thousands of items are found inside patients who underwent surgeries and the reports of patients have the wrong body part operated on.
They call it ‘practicing medicine’ for a reason. One physician friend of mine always said that the day a doctor believes he knows all there is to know about medicine and is no longer ‘practicing medicine’ is the day that his or her medical license should be revoked.
I’m sure we’ve all got stories of wrong diagnosis. I had such an instance just a few months ago when one doctor told me one thing and sent me to a specialist who said it was something different and he quickly fixed the problem.
When we or someone we know, ends up in the hospital, someone is there to monitor what is happening to them and to see that they eventually make it home, safe and sound.
But what happens to patients at hospitals who seem to be homeless, indigent, poor and has no one to care for them? It costs the hospitals money to continue to care for them, but the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors says they will do whatever possible to take care of people. This, according to many, is a problem facing many hospitals, especially in large cities with large populations of poor and homeless people.
Some hospitals seem to believe that the almighty dollar is more important, so they are turning to a practice that is despicable, harmful and illegal, to resolve their dilemma. It’s called ‘patient dumping’. Hospital personnel take the patient somewhere outside the hospital and leaves them.
In 2007, 60 Minutes investigated patient dumping at some Los Angeles area hospitals. One of the cases they reported involved Carol Ann Reyes, a 63-year-old homeless woman. Reyes had fallen and was taken to Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Hospital where she was treated for three days. Then the hospital called a taxi and instructed the taxi driver to drop her off at Skid Row.
One would think that after that horrifying expose, the practice of patient dumping would have ended, but evidently, memories are short and compassion even shorter.
Earlier this month, Imamu Baraka videoed a recent patient dump. He was walking back to a hospital in Baltimore when he saw the hospital security guards, wheel a woman to the nearby bus stop and leave her. It was 30 degrees out and the only thing the woman was wearing was a thin hospital gown.
Baraka felt compassion toward the woman and called for help. When help came, guess where they took her? Yep, back to the same hospital that had just dumped her off at the bus stop.
After his video went public, the University of Maryland Medical Center said they were investigating the incident. They said they obviously failed the patient, when what they really meant is that they regret getting caught patient dumping.