Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which inspects Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act violations, has reportedly authorized a federal investigation into a Baltimore hospital after it dumped a woman into freezing weather in nothing but her socks and hospital gown.
You probably recall the video, which went viral and sparked national uproar earlier this month. The clip, which was filmed by psychotherapist Imamu Baraka, shows a woman—identified as Rebecca—coughing and mumbling next to bags of her belongings at a bus stop after being discharged from University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus. Since being uploaded, it’s caught the attention of CMS via media coverage.
The law requires care providers to secure a transfer for patients with a medical emergency, according to NPR. Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to $50,000 or termination of Medicare and Medicaid status.
“If you get the federal government involved and they’re looking into your actions and nonactions, it’s a big deal, practically and symbolically,” Frankie Berger, director of advocacy at the Treatment Advocacy Center, told NPR. J. Wyndal Gordon, Rebecca’s lawyer, explained to reporters that Rebecca was experiencing “acute psychosis” when the video was filmed.
“There are people who are saying that my daughter is a drug addict, my daughter’s a prostitute, that she’s deaf,” Cheryl Chandler, Rebecca’s mother, told CBS News shortly after the incident. “She’s not deaf, not a prostitute, not a drug addict. My daughter has mental illness.”
She continued, “My daughter was disposed of. She literally was disposed of. It’s disgusting, heartbreaking, horrifying. And if it’s all of those things for me, I want people to know how does Rebecca feel.”
While an investigation is still underway, Gordon says he’s keeping a close watch on the hospital.
“The University of Maryland is in our crosshairs,” he said. “The doctors who mistreated her are in our crosshairs, the security guards—if they are in any way responsible for the trauma that she suffered—are in our crosshairs.”
Rebecca’s family is reportedly considering legal action against the hospital.