U of C heading towards patient “dumping”

Current U.S. health care policy prohibits the “dumping” of patients. This means that a hospital cannot refuse to admit a patient based on factors such as insurance coverage so that the patient would need to seek care elsewhere. 

Here’s the quick and dirty:

In the initial article last week, the Chicago Tribune wrote about a child mauled by a pitbull patched up and turned away  by the University of Chicago ER staff. According to the report, his lip was nearly ripped off. He was given a tetanus shot, antibiotics, and told to follow up at Cook County Hospital a week later. The patient’s mom, who works in health care, didn’t buy it and took an hour long bus ride to Cook County that night, where her son was rushed to surgery. 

Response from U of C’s COO and Associate Dean, as well as the Section Chief of Plastic Surgery. They state that the decision to delay surgery was based on sound medical judgement, not based on insurance status. 

The plot thickened today as the nation’s leading group of emergency physicians, American College of Emergency Physicians, responds to the story. 

“Dr. Nick Jouriles, ACEP’S president, criticized the hospital’s Urban Health Initiative, which diverts patients to clinics and hospitals on the South Side. Jouriles said the hospital is trying to “cherry pick” wealthy patients over poor.

‘This is a dangerous precedent that could have catastrophic effects in poor neighborhoods across the country,’ Jouriles said in the ACEP statement, calling on Congress needs to hold hearings about hospital emergency care.”

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