A dazed woman, barely able to walk or speak, was seen at a bus stop wearing nothing but a hospital gown and socks in 30-degree temperature by a man named Imamu Baraka.
Baraka took out his cell phone and recorded video footage of the presumably mentally ill woman after she was discharged outside of a Baltimore hospital, according to CBS News. Imamu, who has a psychotherapy practice across the street from the hospital, said that he recorded the incident out of fear that no one would believe him if the story was revealed.
Seconds before he started recording, the hospital’s security guards had wheeled the disoriented patient to a bus stop and left her there in freezing temperatures. Baraka questioned the guard’s activities as they walked back to the hospital.
Several of the guards did not respond. However, one guard did offer a vague, inaudible explanation of the hospital’s actions, to which Baraka responded, “That is not OK.”
As the security guards walked off, Baraka asked the abandoned woman if she needed help and requested that she sit down at the bus stop.
“Come on and sit down… I’m going to call and get you some help.”
What Is Patient Dumping?
Usually, the patients who are subjected to “patient dumping” are not insured or have other financial issues, but it’s unclear if that was the case in Baltimore.
In the video, Baraka walks back toward the bus stop where the woman was left as he stressed to viewers how cold it was outside.
This latest incident has sparked major outrage across the country and social media. The Washington Post reports that according to an expert, the Baltimore hospital violated a 1986 federal law that mandates hospitals release those in their care into a safe environment.
Arthur L. Caplan, founding head of the division of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine, said that he feels that the act of “patient dumping” is both illegal and immoral.
“You don’t just throw someone out into the street who is impaired and may have injuries. You try to get them to the best place possible, and that’s not the bench in front of the hospital.”
Hospital security guards in Baltimore wheeled a patient to a bus stop and, in the subfreezing temperatures, left her there in nothing but a hospital gown@jeffpeguescbs reports on “patient dumping” pic.twitter.com/YHsZ5cNt4A— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 10, 2018
Back in 2007, an investigation was conducted by 60 Minutes about the practice of removing homeless patients from Los Angeles hospitals and leaving them on Skid Row.
Just last year, according to court records, a man sued Inova Fairfax Hospital for $100 million after alleging he was hit by a car after he was prematurely discharged on a cold winter’s night, as reported by the Washington Post.
The University of Maryland Medical Center, from which the patient in the video was unceremoniously discharged, said in a statement that they “share the shock and disappointment of many who have viewed the video. In the end we clearly failed to fulfill our mission with this patient.”
According to CBS News, Baraka called 911 and says medics took the patient back to the Baltimore hospital. Currently, a review is underway that could lead to personnel action against the hospital employees who were involved.
The video has been viewed over 1.4 million times on Facebook.
Mohan Suntha, the hospital’s president and chief executive, responded in a press conference.
“We firmly believe what occurred Tuesday night does not reflect who we are… We are trying to understand the points of failure that led to what we witnessed on that video.”
Suntha would not provide details on the personnel involved and said that the investigation on the incident had just begun.
The hospital president also kept the woman’s condition private due to patient confidentiality. He did add that her care before being led to the bus stop was adequate.
Suntha did say that the woman’s insurance status or ability to pay played no role in the decision to discharge her.
Just last week, a Baltimore school made the news due to the school district failing to provide heat in the classrooms. Images of students shivering and bundled up together in coats were spread across social media. One teacher said the students were able to see their own breath.
Bronwyn Mayden, a Baltimore native and executive director of an initiative which was established by the University of Maryland School of Social Work, said that “things are so broken here, so broken.”