On the 10th of January, employees of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore were caught on camera by a passer-by, as they wheeled a patient to a nearby bus stop, and left her there, wearing nothing but a hospital gown and socks. The temperature outside was below freezing, and according to the video posted on YouTube, the hospital staff involved refused to answer any questions.
The practice of “patient dumping” refers to hospitals discharging patients who do not have health insurance, or suffer from other financial issues. It has been documented extensively in other places in the US, including in Los Angeles, where the practice was the subject of a 60 Minutes expose, ten years ago. It is not known why the Maryland Medical Center staff discharged the woman in question under such conditions, but an investigation is under way.
The woman in the video was obviously very confused. She would not speak to the man filming her, only moaning occasionally. The man, named Imamu Baraka, called emergency services and recounted the event, while staying with the woman to make sure she would be taken care of. Doctors eventually arrived, and took her back to the same hospital she had been discharged from.
Management of the University of Maryland Medical Center responded to the video the next day, stating that they felt just as shocked as the people who had been sharing the news, and that they have “failed their mission” regarding the patient in question. Management seems poised to blame specific hospital staff for this decision, and promise that the investigation will set the matter straight. However, it is hard to believe that random orderlies and low-level staff could simply decide to leave an old woman on the street, in sub-zero weather. Hopefully, the investigation into the matter will be corroborated by neutral authorities as well.