Thursday, May 24, 2007

Are We Developing a Culture of Throwaway Elders ?

Thanks to Felica Curran who first blogged about this problem:

60 Minutes did a report on Sunday May 20, 2007 showing how some hospitals in the Los Angeles area, including HMO giant Kaiser Hospital, dump their disabled patients on Skid Row. Kaiser has an ad campaign that implies that its patients "thrive" with the care they provide.Take a look at this video, showing 62-year-old Carol Ann Reyes, who has dementia, walking around on the street in a hospital gown after she was dumped by Kaiser in the Los Angeles Skid Row area.

Carol Ann is walking around in her hospital gown, because Kaiser hospital lost her clothes, according to 60 Minutes. When Kaiser decided it was time for her to go, they put her in a taxicab, wearing nothing but a hospital gown, and told the taxi to head for a rescue mission on Skid Row. The taxi dumped her on the street. The head of the rescue mission saw the whole thing and came to her aid. Carol Ann was readmitted to another hospital, because she was not well enough to be discharged.

The 60 Minutes Report said that patient dumping by hospitals on Skid Row is commonplace: hospitals think they can get away with it because dumped homeless patients blend in with the other homeless. Homeless patients probably don’t have family to make a complaint on their behalf, and they may not even be able to reconstruct what happened to them if, like Carol Ann Reyes, they have a memory impairment such as dementia.

This is the same dynamic present in most cases of elder and dependent adult abuse, where the perpetrator exploits the victim’s impairments and vulnerabilities to get away with abuse.

Another attempted patient dumping of a paraplegic homeless man in LA was also caught on tape:

This story was originally reported by NPR in November of last year. To watch Anderson Cooper’s report from 60 Minutes, which discusses both incidents, click here.

Abridged >>

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