Los Angeles prosecutors filed civil and criminal charges against Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif., for allegedly dumping a homeless patient with dementia in a crime-plagued downtown area known as Skid Row. According to the allegations, 307-bed Kaiser Foundation Hospital-Bellflower discharged 63-year-old Carol Ann Reyes in March by putting her in a taxi that left her outside a mission on Skid Row. She was later found wandering the streets in a hospital gown with serious, continuing health problems, prosecutors said. I intend to hold Kaiser accountable for violating state law, breaching its commitment to its patients, shirking its obligations under the Hippocratic oath, and, perhaps most importantly, offending principles of common decency, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said in a news release.
The Kaiser charges are the first as part of the citys campaign to crack down on hospitals handling of homeless patients; at least nine other Los Angeles-area hospitals are under investigation for allegedly dumping patients at shelters. Kaiser faces criminal charges of false imprisonment and dependent-adult endangerment, as well as a lawsuit alleging violations of a state law mandating appropriate discharge planning for all patients. In a written statement, Kaiser said it provided Reyes with quality care during her three-day inpatient stay and tried to secure her a bed at the mission before discharging her. The company admitted that Reyes wasnt properly clothed at the time of discharge and said it has since augmented its discharge policies. We believe the current legal actions are not appropriate and do not reflect the care we provided, nor does it reflect the intent of our actions or our long-standing record as a community hospital, the statement said. -- by Laura B. Benko