The Boston Globe reported today that state health officials have cited three Massachusetts hospitals for sending patients away from their emergency rooms and that the actions might include fines for the medical facilities.
According to the Globe report, Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester and in Burlington have all been cited in the last six months.In the Chartlon incident, caregivers failed to provide needed treatment before transporting the patient who died while en route to another facility.
According to the Globe, in the Lahey Clinic incident, a patient who arrived at the hospital in Peabody on Nov. 19, 2011 was told that he was banned fro the emergency room there and the ER at the hospital in Burlington. The patient was not evaluated or treated and was escorted from the grounds by security. The patient was brought to another hospital, whose staff later called Lahey to ask why the hospital didn't admit the patient. Lahey staff apologized and the man was brought in and admitted. A nurse and doctor on the case were put a 30-day unpaid leave and recieved retraining in emergency care law.
According to the Globe story, hospitals that break the federal rules governing emergency services can face tough sanctions, including losing the ability to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, which could be a loss of millions of dollars. In these incidents, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services told the hospitals they would not lose their right to treat those patients. The hospitals may face fines, however.