A homeless woman, wearing only a hospital gown and socks, was wheeled out of a Baltimore hospital and left on the sidewalk late Tuesday in an alleged episode of "patient dumping," reports the New York Times. Passerby Imamu Baraka says he was shocked as he watched security guards return to the University of Maryland Medical Center, leaving the woman and her belongings alone at a bus stop, reports People. "This is disgusting that they would just leave her unattended on a bus stop half naked. It's gotta be at least 40 degrees or colder," Baraka says in video footage of the incident. He's heard calling police, who ordered an ambulance for the woman, after trying unsuccessfully to communicate with her. Footage shows her grunting and screaming while struggling to keep her balance, her face appearing bloody.
"Patient dumping" has occurred across the country and people who don't have medical insurance are often victims. This case is not only "immoral" but also a likely violation of a 1986 federal law requiring hospitals to release patients into a safe environment, an expert in medical ethics tells the Washington Post. The video shows Baraka confronting security guards, who describe the woman as "medically discharged." But at a Thursday press conference, hospital chief Mohan Suntha admitted to feeling "shock and anger" over this "failure of basic compassion and empathy," per the Times. Suntha, who said an investigation is underway, also thanked Baraka for drawing attention to the case. Baraka's response, per the Baltimore Sun: "You want to thank me? Fix it." (Read more Baltimore stories.)