Massachusetts Hospital Settles Case Involving Patient Dumping Allegation
On December 12, 2017, Cambridge Health Alliance (Cambridge), Cambridge, Massachusetts, entered into a $90,000 settlement agreement with OIG. The settlement agreement resolves allegations that based on OIG’s investigation, Cambridge violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act when it failed to provide an appropriate medical screening examination to a patient who presented to Cambridge’s Somerville Hospital campus (Somerville). The patient was experiencing an acute asthma attack, a life-threatening condition needing immediate medical attention. OIG contends that the patient tried unsuccessfully to gain entry to Somerville’s Emergency Department (ED) at its ambulance bay entrance, but the door was locked and unattended. The patient then called 911 and alerted the dispatcher that she was having an asthma attack and could not enter the hospital’s ED. The dispatcher then called the Somerville ED and notified the responding registered nurse (RN) that the patient was experiencing an asthma attack outside the ED doors. Three minutes after this notification, the OIG further contends, the RN opened the ambulance bay door and looked around for the patient but did not let go of the door, search the area outside the entrance, or send another staff member to continue the search. Police and Fire Department emergency responders later found the patient collapsed on a bench adjacent to the Ambulance Bay door in full cardiac arrest with no signs of breathing. The Fire Department emergency responders began life-saving techniques before the patient was brought into the ED. The patient died six days later of hypoxic brain injury. OIG alleged that Cambridge failed to conduct a reasonable search for the patient and therefore failed to provide her with an appropriate medical screening examination after she presented to Cambridge’s Somerville ED. Senior Counsels Kenneth Kraft and Sandra Sands represented OIG.
- Date:December 12, 2017
- CMP and Affirmative Exclusions