Kaiser accepts patient-dumping settlement
The pact could resolve suits filed against the HMO after a woman was left wondering on skid row.
By Richard Winton and Cara Mia DiMassa
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
LOS ANGELES — Kaiser Permanente has agreed to a first-of-its-kind settlement aimed at ending the practice of patient dumping by requiring the HMO to establish new discharge rules, provide more training for employees and allow a well-known former U.S. attorney to monitor the progress, officials announced Tuesday.
The agreement comes after the L.A. city attorney’s office last year filed criminal charges against the nation’s largest HMO for allegedly dumping a homeless woman who was a patient at its Bellflower hospital on the streets of downtown L.A.’s skid row.
As part of the settlement, Kaiser agreed to a series of requirements aimed at preventing future patient dumping — and to have Lourdes Baird, a former U.S. attorney for Los Angeles and retired U.S. District Court judge, serve as a monitor overseeing how the hospital chain complies with the rules.
L.A. officials said they are investigating more than 50 cases of dumping in downtown L.A. involving nearly a dozen hospitals. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo called on those hospitals Tuesday to agree to the same rules Kaiser has signed off on for all of its 11 hospitals in the region.
The Kaiser case involved a 63-year-old patient who was discharged last year. A short time later, video at a downtown mission captured her stepping out of a taxi in a gown and socks and then wandering off. Kaiser has denied any wrongdoing, saying the woman was discharged by mistake.
Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, called the settlement a national model for a problem that has plagued cities but has until now received little attention.