A Kansas teaching hospital historically known for caring for the poor has paid $148,000 to settle "patient dumping" charges.
HHS' inspector general's office accused 409-bed University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City of refusing to treat or inappropriately transferring four burn victims in 1996 and 1997, among them one homeless man and two Medicaid patients.
The agency said the hospital, now a quasi-public institution, violated the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which bars hospitals from transferring emergency patients for economic reasons. It also requires them to perform a basic medical screening on all emergency patients.
The hospital settled with the agency June 16 without admitting wrongdoing. MODERN HEALTHCARE obtained a copy of the agreement last week under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
When the alleged violations took place, the medical center was a state-owned facility operated by the University of Kansas. On Oct. 1, 1998, the hospital broke from state control and organized under a new, independent hospital authority.
Mary Keller-Ball, spokeswoman for the hospital, said the cases occurred years ago before EMTALA standards for hospitals were clear.
"The University of Kansas has resolved the issues involved," Keller-Ball said. "The settlement was made by the new University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board to settle outstanding matters."
Three other hospitals settled patient dumping allegations in June, settling without admitting violation of federal law.
They are Southeast Arizona Medical Center in Douglas, Ariz., which paid a $5,000 fine; Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, which paid a $15,000 fine; and Decatur (Ill.) Memorial Hospital, which paid a $5,000 fine.