BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Federal regulators have cited a Baltimore hospital in connection with a January incident in which a mentally ill woman was discharged and left at an open-air bus stop wearing only a flimsy gown and socks.
Our media partner The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday that a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services investigation found the University of Maryland Medical Center violated patient rights as well as several patient safety and hospital management regulations.
The 22-year-old woman had been treated for a head wound, but authorities say she became resistant while being discharged. Security intervened and escorted the visibly disoriented woman outside, where temperatures were in the 30s (near zero Celsius).
The hospital, which previously apologized for a lack of “basic humanity and compassion,” has outlined a corrective plan in response to the violations.
A pedestrian, Imamu Baraka, told WJZ at the time that he was leaving his office across the street from the hospital just as workers wheeled the patient out and left her at the bus stop. Baraka captured the incident on video, which then went viral in early January.
“This woman was placed in the city of Baltimore, in the dead of night, in the cold, vulnerable, exposed,” he said. “She lets out this kind of cry. I felt that. I’m like, ‘come on, let’s go over here. Let’s sit down.’ And, then, she begins to stumble, and I’m like this is going to get bad really fast.”
WJZ spoke with the patient’s mother, who was extremely distraught. She said her daughter, Rebecca, was left out in the cold and she had to contact police just to track her down.
The mother also said she reported her daughter missing last month and she was taken by cab to a shelter the night she was left at the bus stop.
The University of Maryland Medical System released the following statement to WJZ Tuesday night:
“The results of the CMS investigation are largely consistent with what we found in our own thorough internal review of the incident at the UMMC Midtown Campus, which was then followed by a secondary audit from an outside firm we engaged. Our written plans of correction submitted to CMS have been accepted.
Prior to receiving the report from CMS, we had already made changes in procedures and processes aimed at correcting the issues we found that were also identified by the regulators. Additionally, we have taken appropriate personnel actions, and, as part of our ongoing campus integration efforts, have realigned reporting structures across the UMMC University and Midtown campuses to optimize safety, quality and patient experience.
We take responsibility for the combination of circumstances in January that failed to compassionately meet our patient’s needs beyond the initial medical care provided. While our own thorough self-examination revealed some shortcomings, the regulatory assessment punctuates the necessity to more firmly demonstrate our unwavering commitment to safe, quality, compassionate patient care. We pledged to our community and patients to do and be better, and we are confident that we already are.”