CMS: Baltimore hospital violated EMTALA by leaving patient at bus stop

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore has been cited for several violations on patient rights and hospital regulations after leaving a patient wearing only a hospital gown at a bus stop in January. 

CMS had promised to investigate how the patient, identified only as Rebecca, was treated after seeing media coverage of a viral video of her being left outside, looking confused, in 30 degree weather. According to the report, obtained by the Baltimore Sun, CMS said Rebecca was taken to the hospital with a head wound after falling off a motorbike. Nurses said she resisted being discharged and was removed from the hospital by security as shown in the video.

UMMC violated several regulations in this incident, according to CMS, including the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requiring anyone coming to an emergency department to be stabilized and treated. CMS said the hospital “enacted barriers to patients receiving care” in the ED by locking doors to ED and leaving it to security guards to decide what patients should enter. CMS also said it failed to discharge the patient in a safe manner and also violated her right to receive care in a safe setting.

UMMC CEO Mohan Suntha, MD, said the hospital has been re-training and conducting spot audits on staff to make sure they’re following federal requirements. While doors to the ED won’t be locked, he said the hospital won’t be scaling back on security.

“We didn’t solve the problem by removing security,” Suntha said. “We solved the problem so that patients are still protected and staff are still protected in our solution.”

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