The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently held a hearing on the premature discharge of patients who are indigent or have significant medical problems from psychiatric hospitals, also known as "patient dumping." The eight-member independent commission, which evaluates federal laws and policies that impact civil rights, adopted patient dumping as its major study this year, with the aim of producing a report that could include recommendations for changes in law.
In this Las Vegas Review-Journal article, Gina Greenwood, who participated as a panelist in the hearing, warns against "heavy handed" regulation. She said the major applicable law in this case, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to treat emergency patients and not discharge them before their conditions are stabilized, is viewed by medical facilities as an unfunded mandate. "I'm afraid if we try to do mass regulations and mass legislation to address the bad apples, we are going to come up with unintended consequences," she said.
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