UPDATE: UMMC Vows Review After Patient Discharged Outside Wearing Only Hospital Gown

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UMMC-Midtown staff walking away from a discharged patient. Still via Facebook/Imamu Baraka.

Dr. Mohan Suntha, CEO and president of the University of Maryland Medical Center, said Thursday afternoon that the hospital is conducting an “in-depth analysis” for the case of a patient shown in viral footage being left outside in cold weather while wearing only a hospital gown.

At a press conference at the hospital downtown, Suntha said the unidentified woman’s “health care needs were addressed appropriately” in the emergency room, but that staff neglected to show her “humanity and compassion” upon discharging her.

“I absolutely want to start by apologizing to the patient, her family and the entire community that we serve for what occurred,” he said toward the beginning of the conference.

“What you saw on that video is not a process that would occur with any frequency at all,” he later added.

The footage, posted to Facebook by Baltimore psychotherapist Imamu Baraku on Tuesday, depict a disoriented-looking woman wandering near and then sitting down at a bus stop on Tuesday night near the UMMC-Midtown campus.

“So y’all are gonna just leave this lady out here? With no clothes on?” he poses to staff who appear to be uniformed security. “That is not OK.”

One starts to respond, “Given the circumstances of what it was—”

“—then you need to call the police,” Baraku interrupts. The officers then walk away as Baraku asks them again if they plan to leave the woman outside, and if he can see a supervisor.

He eventually helps guide the woman–mumbling and generally non-responsive to his questions–to the bus stop on Howard Street. Baraku later follows an ambulance that picks her up and appears to take her back to the UMMC-Midtown emergency room.

The footage, first reported by The Sun, has made national headlines.

Suntha said all staff who interacted with the patient, including physicians, nurses and front-desk staff, will be interviewed to determine how she wound up left outside. Those involved in her discharging will be “held accountable,” he said, though he declined to share any “information that will involve HR actions.”

Lisa Clough, director of media relations for UMMC, said in a statement to Baltimore Fishbowl on Wednesday night: “We share the shock and disappointment of many who have viewed the video showing the discharge of a patient from the Emergency Department of UMMC Midtown the night of January 9. This unfortunate event is not representative of our patient-centered mission.”

“While there are many circumstances of this patient’s case that we cannot address publicly,” she continued, “in the end we clearly failed to fulfill our mission with this patient, no matter the circumstances of her case or the quality of the clinical care we provided in the hospital (which is not depicted in the video). We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action.”

Baraku could not be reached for comment Thursday. In a caption accompanying his footage, he quoted UMMC’s vision statement, which says the hospital will be known in part for “providing high value and compassionate care” and “improving health in Maryland and beyond.”

“You can do better,” Baraku wrote. “You must do better.”

Suntha said the hospital will attempt to use the experience as a lesson.

“It is never easy to deal with failure, but I strongly believe that we can learn from this failure,” he said.

This story has been updated with comment from Dr. Mohan Suntha, CEO and president of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Ethan McLeod
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