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Georgia Hospital Settles Case Involving Patient Dumping Allegation

On September 27, 2019, Doctors Hospital of Augusta (DHA), Augusta, Georgia, entered into a $180,000 settlement agreement with OIG. The settlement agreement resolves allegations that, based on OIG's investigation, DHA violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) when it failed to provide an adequate medical screening examination and stabilizing treatment for a patient and failed to accept an appropriate transfer of a second patient. The first patient was a 25-year old female who presented to DHA's Emergency Department (ED) complaining of ingestion of an unknown substance and a loss of consciousness. The patient was reportedly tearful and anxious, and complained of a headache, neck pain, face pain, and left shoulder pain. A nurse triaged the patient and gave her an Emergency Severity Index score of three, which was "urgent" according to DHA's triage policy. A physician medically screened the patient; however, the screen did not include necessary laboratory tests related to the patient's presenting symptoms. The patient was entered into DHA's medical screening exam process for non-emergent patients and was asked for funds in order to continue evaluation. The patient was unable to pay, so she was discharged. The patient immediately sought treatment at another hospital, where she was treated. The second patient was an 84-year-old female with pneumonia, and severe hypernatremia and hyperglycemia. The patient needed Intensive Care United (ICU) level care and the transferring hospital did not have an ICU. A physician at DHA refused to accept the transfer of the patient, stating that the referring facility could manage the patient. DHA had the capability and the capacity to care for the patient. Associate Counsel Candace Ashford represented OIG.

Action Details

  • Date:September 27, 2019
  • Enforcement Types:
    • CMP and Affirmative Exclusions