Settlements In LA Hospital's Alleged Patient Dumping Case

Two lawsuits against a hospital for allegedly leaving a homeless paraplegic man on Skid Row without his wheelchair have been settled, attorneys said Friday.

Under a preliminary settlement agreement, Hollywood Presbyterian
Medical Center and Empire Transportation, Inc., a patient transportation company, will pay an undisclosed amount to Gabino Olvera, who was seen dragging himself across the pavement in a soiled gown in February 2007, said Olvera's attorney, Steven Archer.

Archer said settlement details were confidential but "it's not an insignificant amount of money."

Olvera's lawsuit alleged the hospital was negligent in its treatment, failed to diagnose and treat his urinary tract infection and mental illness, and discharged him in a helpless condition.

The incident also prompted the city attorney's office to file a related suit.
In settling that lawsuit, the hospital agreed to adopt protocols for discharging homeless patients, train their staff, and keep statistics, Chief Assistant City Attorney Jeffrey Isaacs said.

The hospital will also allow a court-appointed referee to monitor implementation of the settlement for five years, Isaacs said. The agreement requires the hospital to pay $1 million to two Hollywood social service agencies that provide medical services and beds to homeless people recovering from hospital stays.

The hospital will also pay the city $10,000 in civil penalties and $50,000 to reimburse investigative expenses.

Empire Enterprises, whose driver was accused of leaving Olvera, agreed to a $10,000 civil penalty.

"We have now done everything we told the community last year we
would do in response this incident," Hollywood Presbyterian CEO Jeff Nelson said in a statement. "From the first day we promised to take action to review our policies, procedures and services for homeless patients and improve them where needed. Much of that we ccomplished months ago."

After the incident, the hospital did an investigation, expanded its social services staff to help place homeless patients and retrained emergency room personnel on the special needs of the homeless, Nelson said.

But Isaacs said the city attorney's investigation showed the hospital's good intentions were not enough to fix the problem.

"According deposition testimony, they had not adopted the city attorney's protocols at the time they said they did," Isaacs said.

A city law takes effect in July that will make it a misdemeanor to take patients anywhere other than their home without written consent.

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