Why Was A Baltimore Patient Discharged At A Bus Stop In Just A Gown?
Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET
A Baltimore hospital has started an investigation over why a distressed and confused patient was left at a bus stop at night in cold temperatures and wearing just a hospital gown.
A passerby recorded a video Monday showing four security guards walking away from a bus stop next to University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus. One is pushing an empty wheelchair. They appear to have just left the woman at the stop.
"Wait, so you're just going to leave this lady out here with no clothes on?" asks Imamu Baraka, a psychotherapist, the man who recorded the video. The guards walk away.
"That is not OK," says Baraka. A guard turns around and offers a vague explanation: "Due to the circumstances of what it was."
The men do not appear to respond when Baraka urges them to call the police. When asked, one of them identifies himself as a supervisor.
Baraka then walks back toward the bus stop where the woman was left, stressing how cold it is outside.
The woman is standing next to the bus stop in a thin yellow hospital gown and socks. She appears scared as she staggers and softly mutters. Several bags of what appear to be her belongings are sitting at the bus stop. The woman moans and cries and coughs, and her breath forms white clouds in the cold.
Baraka calls 911, and rescue workers arrive quickly. They take her back to the hospital where she was discharged just moments before.
It wasn't clear what the circumstances were surrounding the woman's discharge into the night, at temperatures of approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
"University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus (UMMC) ... may I remind you of the importance of the VISION of your MEDICAL CENTER," Baraka wrote in the video post. " 'UMMC will be known for providing high value and compassionate care, improving health in Maryland and beyond, educating future health care leaders and discovering innovative ways to advance medicine worldwide.' You can do better. You must do better."
Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of the hospital, said at a news conference Thursday that he was confident the incident was isolated and that individuals throughout the organization would be held accountable for the woman's treatment.
Suntha said he has tried to reach the man who intervened to thank him for helping the woman and for making the incident public.
He said the woman had been treated and not been turned away because she couldn't pay. He said the hospital has a responsibility to address the "social needs" of patients, working with outside agencies.
"We share the shock and disappointment of many who have viewed the video showing the discharge of a patient from the Emergency Department of UMMC Midtown the night of January 9," the hospital said in a statement released before its CEO's news conference. "This unfortunate event is not representative of our patient-centered mission. For this, we are truly sorry."
The hospital adds: "While there are many circumstances of this patient's case that we cannot address publicly, in the end we clearly failed to fulfill our mission with this patient, no matter the circumstances of her case or the quality of the clinical care we provided in the hospital (which is not depicted in the video)." It says it may take "personnel action" as a result of the discharge.
The video has been widely shared, though NPR is not linking to it out of concern for the patient's privacy.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.