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Georgia Hospital Settles Case Involving Patient Dumping Allegation

On April 20, 2020, DeKalb Medical Center, Inc. (DeKalb), Decatur, Georgia, entered into a $260,000 settlement agreement with OIG. The settlement agreement resolves allegations that, based on OIG's investigation, DeKalb violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), when it failed to provide an adequate screening examination and stabilizing treatment for twenty-one individuals. The following are examples of such incidents. Patient N.R.A., a 25-year-old female, presented to DeKalb's Emergency Department (ED) on January 18, 2015, with complaints of acute gastric pain, nausea, and vomiting. The medical records also listed possible pregnancy as her chief complaint. N.R.A. had a prior history of peptic ulcer disease and gastric ulcers. The medical records indicated that N.R.A. was seen by a registered nurse and was triaged using an emergency severity level index at level 4 (indicating a non-urgent patient). The triage nurse recorded N.R.A.'s vital signs and marked "no" next to nine questions on a non-patient specific checklist. Within six minutes of the nurse starting the triage process, N.R.A. was discharged from DeKalb's ED. Patient B.B. a 29-year-old male, was brought to DeKalb's ED by an ambulance on February 2, 2015, with complaints of neck pain after suffering from a motor vehicle accident one hour prior to his arrival. B.B. rated his pain at a level 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the worst). The medical records indicate that B.B. was seen by a registered nurse, who triaged him using the emergency severity level index at level 4 (indicating a non-urgent patient). The triage nurse recorded B.B.'s vital signs and marked "no" next to nine questions on a non-patient specific checklist. B.B. was then discharged from DeKalb's ED. In each of the incidents described above, DeKalb's ED was capable of providing an appropriate medical screening examination to determine whether the patients had an emergency medical condition and providing stabilizing treatments in the event patients had such conditions, but OIG contends that DeKalb failed to do so. Similar incidents occurred for the following 19 individuals who presented to DeKalb's ED: C.R.B. (1/24/2015); B.N.C. (1/30/2015); D.M.A. (2/2/2015); T.R. (2/3/2015); D.M. (2/6/2015); D.C.W. (2/10/2015); T.D. (2/11/2015); T.M.M. (2/24/2015); A.A.H. (3/1/2015); M.C.B. (3/2/2015); R.S.M. (3/3/2015); W.P.H. (3/6/2015); F.D.R. (3/7/2015); K.D. (4/5/2015); T.M.C. (4/9/2015); T.K. (4/9/2015); R.L.M. (4/9/2015); T.B. (4/10/2015); and L.D.C. (9/1/2015). In each of these cases, OIG determined that DeKalb failed to provide an appropriate medical screening examination or stabilizing treatment to these individuals within the capability of its ED. Senior Counsel Srishti Sheffner represented OIG.

Action Details

  • Date:April 20, 2020
  • Enforcement Types:
    • CMP and Affirmative Exclusions

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