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California Hospital Settles Case Involving a Patient Dumping Allegation

On October 26, 2016, Sonoma Valley Hospital (Sonoma), a small hospital in Sonoma, California, entered into a $25,000 settlement agreement with OIG. The settlement agreement resolves allegations that Sonoma violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) when it failed to provide needed stabilizing treatment and an appropriate transfer for a 59-year old woman. OIG's investigation revealed that the patient arrived at Sonoma's Emergency Department (ED) via ambulance. The patient had a fever, no palpable pulses or blood pressure, a low respiratory rate and severe pain. Ten days earlier she had undergone surgery for diversional ileostomy (surgical formation of an opening of the intestine to the surface of the abdomen, through which fecal matter is emptied). The patient was diagnosed with sepsis and needed immediate surgery. Although Sonoma had the capabilities to provide this surgery, Sonoma's doctors wanted to send the patient back to the surgeon who performed her original surgery. Approximately 7.5 hours after the patient arrived at Sonoma's ED, she was inappropriately transferred to another hospital. At that hospital she received immediate surgery and died soon after. Senior Counsel Sandra Sands represented OIG.

Action Details

  • Date:October 26, 2016
  • Enforcement Types:
    • CMP and Affirmative Exclusions