Bystanders’ videos uncover ‘patient dumping’ by hospitals

In the span of just two weeks, there have been two high-profile cases of people being dumped in their hospital gowns on the street outside.

The latest is in Milwaukee where workers of the Aurora Sinai Medical Center put a homeless man out on the street after he was discharged.

Pictures showed he had a hospital gown, sweatpants, no shoes and one sock.

If it hadn't been for the invention of the smartphone, and the compassion of a person who owned one, would we ever know about this practice?

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"Basic humanity tells you it’s not OK to take a mentally ill person and leave him on a sidewalk like this,” Eva Welch, director of Street Angels Milwaukee Outreach, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She said a video showed hospital workers pushing him across the street in a wheelchair, then dumping him on the sidewalk.

She said volunteers with her organization saw pretty much the same thing two weeks ago.

The hospital says workers have been suspended pending an investigation, the hospital said in a statement to WTMJ.

Yesterday, a member of the community made us aware of a very troubling situation at our downtown facility. While this is a highly complex case, it is clear that our protocols and values were not followed, and we're deeply troubled by this. We're taking this matter very seriously and have suspended the individuals involved, pending an investigation.

We've set up a task force to help best address these complicated cases and ensure safe discharge planning for vulnerable individuals. We've reached out to key community leaders asking them to join us on our task force and in our efforts. We believe that, together, we can find long-term solutions.

We're also re-educating caregivers on our service commitments to treat all patients with dignity and respect. What occurred was contrary to our values, and we're doing everything that we can to make sure it doesn't happen again.

This suggest that hospital workers merely decided on their own that dumping patients without clothing into the freezing cold was a good idea. How is that possible?

That's a question posed to a hospital in Baltimore, too, where the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus turned out a woman without hardly any clothes.

Again, we wouldn't know about it if not for a compassionate person and his smartphone.

The mother of the woman recognized her in the video and tried to get her some help.

"I called the security department [and] they laughed at me. When I told them, 'That's my daughter in the video and I just need to find out if she's in the hospital,' they laughed at me," she told FoxNews. Every person that I talked to at the hospital either hung up on me or told me to email the hospital, and that everyone was going to tell me the same thing."

The hospital said it's investigating and, like counterparts in Milwaukee, said patient dumping isn't representative of its values.

In Sacramento last month, a 78-year-old man was dumped outside a homeless shelter after being discharged from the hospital. There was no room, even though the hospital had suggested to him that he'd find a place to stay.

In that case, the Baltimore case, and the Milwaukee case, homeless advocates all invoked the same observation: "It happens all the time."

Related: What is patient dumping? Incident with woman at Baltimore hospital is hardly new (Baltimore Sun)