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L.A. County's Olive View hospital settles patient dumping case

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Olive View-UCLA Medical Center agrees to $40,750 settlement with feds in alleged patient dumping case
Patient allegedly waited 6½ hours at Olive View emergency room with acute appendicitis

A Los Angeles County hospital in Sylmar has agreed to pay $40,750 to settle federal allegations of patient dumping.

Attorneys with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services alleged that Olive View-UCLA Medical Center failed to properly screen a patient to determine if he had an emergency medical condition.

According to a statement released by the inspector general's office, a man came into the Olive View emergency room with "signs of appendicitis and severe abdominal pain that he rated at a 10 on a 10-point scale."

The man waited for 6½ hours for a medical evaluation before he gave up and went to another hospital. There he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and a large peritoneal abscess and had to undergo an immediate laparoscopic appendectomy.

Attorneys with the inspector general's office alleged that Olive View violated federal law by failing to give an appropriate medical screening to determine if the patient had an emergency medical condition.

The hospital contested the allegations but agreed to the settlement last month  in an agreement announced earlier this month. No formal judgment was made on the facts of the case.

[Updated at 2 p.m. Thursday: Olive View spokeswoman Azar Kattan said the hospital had taken several corrective steps after the 2011 incident, including adding physicians to provide faster medical screening to patients awaiting treatment, having a registered nurse monitor the waiting room at least every two hours to ensure no patients are "in extremis," and modifying the computer system to provide real-time alerts to the nursing staff to "ensure timely reassessment of patients awaiting medical treatment after they have been triaged."]

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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