"Patient Dumping" Alleged Against White Memorial

Jesse Bravo alleges personnel at White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights, Calif., improperly discharged him in February 2011, in a suspected case of "patient dumping."
By Jason Kandel

In the latest case of suspected hospital “patient dumping” on Southern California streets, a court complaint filed last week accuses a hospital and doctor of improperly discharging a patient against his will and dropping him off in front of a homeless shelter.
The complaint alleges that White Memorial Medical Center personnel used plastic restraints to tie the hands of patient Jesse Bravo, loaded him into a van, dropped him off in front of a homeless shelter and didn't follow up to make sure he was admitted.
Bravo, who suffers from schizophrenia and who had requested to be taken to his mother’s house, wound up wandering Skid Row for two nights and dislocated his shoulder in an attack, the complaint said.
He had no warm clothing, money, ID or medication, court papers said.
Bravo and his wife were reunited Feb. 14, 2011, a day after police picked him up when they found him trying to climb into a van that resembled his wife’s.
“Mr. Bravo was drugged and then dumped by a hospital that did not want to care for him,” said Patrick Dunlevy, director of Public Counsel’s consumer law project, which is representing Bravo. “In their rush to push Mr. Bravo out the door, the hospital staff missed all the stop signs that should have protected him.”
Jim Lott, the executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, which represents all hospitals in Southern California, said White Memorial followed proper protocols.
“The hospital operated properly and within the law," Lott said. “If an investigation ensues, the findings will come to the same conclusion."
Officials for White Memorial Medical Center, a non-profit, faith-based teaching hospital based in Boyle Heights, denied the allegation, saying “patient care is the heart of our mission.”
“In this situation, the hospital acted appropriately and respected the patient's wishes,” said White Memorial spokeswoman Alicia Gonzalez, in a written statement.
The complaint, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court by the public-interest law firm Public Counsel, names White Memorial Medical Center, Adventist Health System/West, and Dr. Michael Hernandez.
It seeks damages for abuse of a dependent adult, emotional distress, false imprisonment, and negligence.
This is the latest allegation of patient dumping in Southern California.
In the last seven or eight years, the city of Los Angeles has seen 55 cases of patient dumping, Lott said.
After a case in 2006, the Los Angeles City Council approved new protocols that require hospitals to make a finding that the patient is mentally competent before they’re discharged and to get patients’ permission to transport them anywhere other than their home, Lott said.
Hospitals are also required to get the approval of the location where the patient is being sent.
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