Two more hospitals have agreed to pay $5,000 fines each to settle charges that they broke the federal patient "dumping" law by failing to treat emergency patients appropriately.
The 1986 law bars hospitals from transferring medically unstable patients or women in labor to other hospitals for economic reasons. It also requires hospitals to provide basic medical screenings to patients who show up in their emergency rooms.
The two new settlements bring to at least 11 the number of hospitals that have settled patient dumping charges with HHS' inspector general's office this year, according to records compiled by MODERN HEALTHCARE.
The subjects of the two latest dumping settlements are 202-bed Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., and 124-bed Welch (W.Va.) Emergency Hospital.
HHS accused Our Lady of Lourdes of violating the law in May 1994 by transferring an emergency department patient to another hospital without a basic medical screening and without stabilizing the patient's condition.
HHS accused Welch Emergency of discharging an emergency department patient in March 1995 without performing a basic medical screening.
Under the settlements, neither of the hospitals admit to any wrongdoing. But in addition to the $5,000 civil monetary penalties paid by the hospitals, they both agreed to run a series of newspaper advertisements regarding their admissions policies. The ads state the hospitals' policy of accepting all Medicare and Medicaid patients and treating all emergency patients regardless of their ability to pay.
The hospitals signed the settlements in August. MODERN HEALTHCARE obtained copies of the agreements last week under the federal Freedom of Information Act.