Two more hospitals have agreed to pay thousands of dollars in fines to settle charges that they violated the federal "patient-dumping" law.
The 1986 law bars hospitals from transferring medically unstable patients or patients in labor to other hospitals for economic reasons. It also requires hospitals to provide basic medical screenings to all emergency patients.
The two settlements, signed in October by HHS' inspector general's office, bring to 10 the number of hospitals that have settled patient-dumping allegations this year, according to records compiled by MODERN HEALTHCARE.
The magazine obtained copies of the new settlements last week under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
In the first, signed Oct. 11, the government said 107-bed St. Mary's Hospital of Blue Springs (Mo.) violated the dumping law in August 1990 when it failed to provide a basic medical screening to an emergency department patient.
Under the settlement, the hospital admits to no violation of federal law. But it agreed to pay HHS a $25,000 civil monetary penalty to settle the charges. It also agreed to run a series of newspaper advertisements that say the hospital's emergency department is open to all patients regardless of the their ability to pay.
In the second settlement, signed Oct. 26, the government said 164-bed Dunwoody Medical Center in Atlanta violated the dumping law in May 1991 when the hospital, then known as Shallowford Medical Center, delayed treatment to an emergency department patient to check the patient's insurance status.
Under the settlement, the hospital admits to no violation of federal law. But it agreed to pay a $35,000 civil monetary penalty to settle the charges.
HHS didn't require Dunwoody to run newspaper advertisements as it did St. Mary's.
Dunwoody, unlike St. Mary's, is a for-profit hospital and isn't required by the Internal Revenue Service to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients nor operate a 24-hour emergency department open to all patients regardless of their ability to pay.