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California Hospital Settles Case Involving Patient Dumping Allegation

On December 26, 2019, San Mateo Medical Center (San Mateo), a small hospital in San Mateo, California, entered into a $20,000 settlement agreement with OIG. The settlement agreement resolves allegations that, based on OIG's investigation, San Mateo violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), when it failed to provide an appropriate medical screening examination, stabilizing treatment, and transfer for a 23-year old pregnant woman. On August 24, 2016, the patient presented to San Mateo's Emergency Department (ED) complaining of abdominal pain for about four hours, with some vaginal discharge and bleeding. She was approximately 25 weeks pregnant. San Mateo did not perform a vaginal exam and did not determine if the patient was in labor. San Mateo's ED physician arranged for the patient to be transferred to another hospital for a higher level of care. The ED physician was informed that it would take 45 minutes for ambulance transport to arrive at San Mateo's ED, so he recommended that the patient be transferred by private vehicle. The patient delivered her baby in her car on the way to the receiving hospital and the patient self-diverted to a different hospital, where she arrived 26 minutes later. The baby was not breathing upon arrival to the hospital and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was unable to resuscitate the baby. Senior Counsel Sandra Sands represented OIG.

Action Details

  • Date:December 26, 2019
  • Enforcement Types:
    • CMP and Affirmative Exclusions

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