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Patient Dumping: A Common Practice in Los Angeles Healthcare Facilities

Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported on a hospital that has been accused of patient dumping. Jesse Bravo, a patient at White Memorial Medical Center here in Los Angeles was admitted to the hospital for treatment of schizophrenia. When he was discharged, Bravo’s wife was not notified and instead, he was dropped off in front of a rehabilitation center. Bravo reportedly never actually went inside and spent several days on the street before police found him and brought him home his wife, who had filed a missing persons report. The couple is now suing the hospital for elder abuse, hospital negligence, and false imprisonment.

According to the article, over the past few years, patient dumping has become a serious problem. In response to this issue, Los Angeles law enforcement authorities have been strictly regulating policies against patient dumping. Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter said that “The message was sent in the city of Los Angeles that this kind of activity would not be tolerated and would be closely watched.” Unfortunately, similar cases of elder abuse and neglect occur regularly, not only in hospitals, but also in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

In skilled nursing facilities, especially those that are understaffed, duties are often carried out carelessly and recklessly. This inattentiveness often leads to errors that are detrimental to the health of patients and sometimes even death. Patients with cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are at an especially high risk of nursing home neglect. While their conditions require additional attention and care, nursing homes often fail to provide for these needs.

In a recent case taking place in a nursing home, a patient with memory problems was allowed to wander out into a seven lane road in forty-eight degree weather, wearing only pajamas. Furthermore, it took the facility two hours to notice the patient’s disappearance before they reported him missing. In another nursing home, a woman with dementia suffered from hypothermia when she was found outside in twelve degree weather at 4:00 a.m.

Although skilled nursing facilities may seem fully staffed, we often find that there is a discrepancy between the staffing levels of different shifts. For example, in the case discussed above, while the facility may or may not have been fully staffed during the day, they were most likely understaffed during their night shift, since the woman was clearly not being closely monitored, as she was able to wander from her bed outside into the cold.

When healthcare facilities are understaffed and are failing to provide your loved one with the care that he or she needs, they are violating the Patient’s Bill of Rights and committing elder abuse. Under the circumstances that their carelessness and neglect directly contribute to the death of a patient, the successors of the resident may be able to make a Wrongful Death claim.

If you feel that your loved one is or has been a victim of nursing home neglect, contact us today so that we can help.