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Loxahatchee, Florida Hospital Settles EMTALA Case

On February 9, 2015, Palms West Hospital (Palms), a Loxahatchee, Florida hospital, agreed to pay a maximum penalty of $50,000 in a settlement agreement with OIG. The agreement resolves allegations that Palms refused to accept the transfer of a toddler who had ingested Drano. The mother of an 18-month old toddler brought her daughter to a hospital emergency department (ED) for ingestion of an unknown quantity of Drano. Poison control recommended that the toddler be treated by a pediatric gastroenterologist (GI), which that hospital did not have. The ED physician contacted the Hospital Corporation of America's Transfer Center (TC) to arrange a transfer of the patient. As protocols required, TC had a copy of Palms' on-call list. TC called Palms to confirm that pediatric GI services were available and to arrange for the transfer of the toddler. The ED physician at Palms accepted the transfer, but later rescinded the acceptance believing that she had made a mistake about on-call coverage. As a result, the toddler was transferred to another hospital. Palms, however, did have a pediatric GI available on call when the request was made to transfer the toddler. TC failed to check on the transfer request in a timely manner and learned of the refusal after the patient had been transferred to another facility. Senior Counsel Sandra Sands represented OIG.

Action Details

  • Date:February 9, 2015
  • Enforcement Types:
    • CMP and Affirmative Exclusions