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Three Rivers Behavioral Health Agreed to Pay $25,000 for Allegedly Violating Patient Dumping Statute by Failing to Accept an Appropriate Transfer

On June 17, 2021, Three Rivers Behavioral Health (Three Rivers), West Columbia, South Carolina, entered into a $25,000 settlement agreement with OIG. The settlement agreement resolves allegations that Three Rivers violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) when it failed to accept the appropriate transfer of a patient with an unstable emergency medical condition.  Specifically, the patient presented to the Emergency Department of a small community hospital complaining of headaches, hearing voices, and thoughts of killing herself by shooting herself or jumping off of a bridge.  Because it did not have the capabilities to stabilize the patient’s emergency medical condition, the hospital faxed the patient’s medical record to Three Rivers with a request for a “bed for this [patient].”  Soon thereafter, Three Rivers called the transferring hospital and claimed that Three Rivers “had no appropriate beds available for this patient at this time.”  In fact, Three Rivers had 26 available beds in its adult and crisis stabilization units. OIG determined that the fax and telephone conversation clearly constituted a request for transfer and that Three Rivers refused to accept the appropriate transfer of the patient when it had both the capabilities and the capacity to stabilize the patient’s emergency medical condition.  Senior Counsels Matthew Westbrook and Sandra Sands represented OIG.

Action Details

  • Date:June 17, 2021
  • Enforcement Types:
    • CMP and Affirmative Exclusions