January 12, 2018
A state agency charged with ensuring health facilities meet federal and state standards is investigating a University of Maryland Medical Center hospital where a woman was found outside in just a gown and socks in a case that some are calling patient dumping.
The incident at the medical center’s midtown campus in Baltimore was caught on tape by local psychotherapist Imamu Baraka. The woman in the video appears disoriented and is stumbling about. What appears to be four security guards are walking back into the hospital. One has a wheelchair.
The Office of Health Care Quality is investigating the incident. The agency is a branch of the Maryland Health Department that licenses and certifies health facilities and programs throughout Maryland, according to the agency’s website.
Licensing authorizes a facility to do business in the state and certification authorizes a facility to participate in Medicare and Medicaid Programs.
When violations are found, the office issues a report that outlines deficiencies. The health facilities then have to come up with a corrective plan that must be approved by the agency.
The University of Maryland Medical Center’s top executive, Dr. Mohan Suntha, apologized for what happened to the patient Thursday. He called it an isolated incident.
“We take full responsibility for this failure,” he said during a news conference. The hospital did not provide “basic humanity and compassion,” he added.
The hospital system is investigating the incident and is talking to everyone who came into contact with the woman, including guards, nurses and doctors. It also is reviewing its discharge policies.
Baraka found the woman while leaving his office Tuesday night across from the hospital. He called 911 and medics took the woman back to the same hospital. She was later transported to a homeless shelter but is now with family. She had been missing 10 days, Baraka said the woman’s mom told him.
The hospital found itself in the national and international spotlight after Baraka’s video was shared multiple times on social media. It became the latest hospital across the country accused of a practice known as “patient dumping,” in which patients who are homeless, mentally ill or both are released to the streets.