Office of Inspector General Announces Two Patient Dumping Civil Monetary Penalties

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced two civil monetary penalties (CMP) of $50,000 against an Illinois hospital and Florida medical center.

Sacred Heart Hospital of Illinois agreed to the civil monetary penalty to resolve liability in a medical screening presentation in its emergency room. The OIG alleged that the hospital failed to provide a medical screening examination for a 63-year old woman, who was not breathing, at the emergency room. Instead, the hospital contacted the local fire department, which transferred her to another hospital in violation of the patient dumping provision of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) where she was pronounced dead.

In the second matter, Holmes Regional Medical Center of Florida agreed to pay a CMP of $50,000. The OIG alleged that medical center failed to provide a medical screening examination and adequately stabilize a 30-year old pregnant woman in its emergency department experiencing chest pains with potential cardiac arrest. Both the patient and her baby died.

Generally, if an individual comes to the emergency department of a hospital, the hospital must provide an appropriate medical screening examination within the capability of the hospital’s emergency department. This includes any ancillary services routinely available to the emergency department used to determine whether an emergency medical condition exists. The screening must be conducted by qualified medical or nursing personnel. If an emergency medical condition is diagnosed, the hospital must provide stabilizing treatment or arrange for an appropriate transfer.