Jackson Memorial Hospital, flagship of the two-hospital, Miami-based Jackson Health System owned by the Public Health Trust of Miami-Dade County, last week agreed to pay $50,000 to settle "patient-dumping" allegations made by the HHS' Inspector General.
An inspector general spokeswoman confirmed the Feb. 19 settlement marks Jackson Memorial's third violation of the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to appropriately screen, stabilize or transfer patients seeking emergency treatment and prohibits the dumping of patients for economic reasons.
Jackson Memorial allegedly refused to accept the transfer of a 30-year-old burn victim from Delray Medical Center, Delray Beach, Fla. Jackson emergency room personnel allegedly refused the transfer of the patient, who had suffered burns over 15% of her body surface with damage to her hands and feet, saying the patient did not meet the criteria of its burn unit.
An investigation found the patient's condition worsened because of Jackson Memorial's alleged delay. The patient was diagnosed upon arrival after an airlift to Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital with burns over 23% of her body.
The inspector general's office determined that the patient did have an emergency condition that required treatment and that Jackson Memorial refused to accept the transfer in violation of EMTALA. Partly because of the egregious nature of the case and two previous EMTALA violations, the inspector general fined Jackson Memorial $50,000, the highest amount allowable.
Jackson Memorial, which paid $16.8 million in June 2003 to settle fraud violations, is currently operating under a five-year corporate integrity agreement.
Jackson Memorial officials could not be reached for comment at deadline.