Deal Sets New Rules for Release of Homeless Patients

The nation’s largest HMO “has agreed to a first-of-its-kind settlement aimed at ending patient dumping,” reported the Los Angeles Times. The agreement, between Kaiser Permanente and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, requires that Kaiser establish new rules for discharging patients from its 11 hospitals in the region and allow a former U.S. attorney to oversee how Kaiser complies with the rules. It also mandates a $500,000 contribution to a charitable foundation that will fund a countywide electronic system to monitor shelter beds and other resources. Last year, Delgadillo’s office filed civil lawsuits and criminal charges against the hospital chain, alleging that it had a discharged patient driven to and released on skid row. The settlement could serve as a model for other cities in handling a national problem that has, until now, been overlooked by law enforcement, said the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. The settlement must still be approved by a Superior Court judge and the court-appointed guardian of the discharged patient allegedly dumped on skid row.

Another hospital accused of dumping a homeless patient on skid row has vowed to follow the same discharge protocol agreed to by Kaiser, reported the Los Angeles Times. However, under the terms of its agreement with the city attorney, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center will not be appointed an outside monitor. “Hollywood Presbyterian is one of 10 hospitals being investigated by the city attorney in more than 50 cases of dumping in downtown L.A. over the last two years,” the article said. Hollywood Presbyterian’s “announcement by itself doesn’t impact our investigation,” Delgadillo said. He is urging other hospitals to adopt the protocols, the article said.

Kaiser Accepts Settlement to End Dumping of Homeless Patients
05/16/2007 | Los Angeles Times

2nd Hospital Adopts Patient Discharge Plan
05/19/2007 | Los Angeles Times