Lawsuit threatened over hospital workers leaving patient out in cold

The hospital has taken full responsibility for the incident.

— -- A lawyer for the family of a Baltimore woman--left wearing only a patient gown and socks outside a Baltimore hospital in frigid weather--is calling the act “inhuman” and cruel.”

At a news conference Thursday, J. Wyndal Gordon said an investigation is underway and that there would be some form of “legal action” taken against the hospital.

“Just what does it take to do something like that? You must be of depraved heart to dump a young woman into the street in the city of Baltimore,” Gordon said. “The mistreatment of the mentally ill is a very serious problem. It’s not just the individual you’re mistreating-- you’re mistreating their loved ones that care about her.”

In a statement Thursday, University of Maryland Medical Center President and CEO Mohad Suntha said, “To reiterate, we take full responsibility for the failure that occurred in demonstrating compassion to this young woman in the post-discharge process after delivering medical care." But he has denied "patient dumping."

Cheryl Jackson said she found out about the incident last week when she saw a video of her daughter on social media being left at a bus stop by hospital workers and that she immediately called trying to reach her.

She said that despite telling the hospital the woman was her daughter, the person she spoke with told her to send an email to the hospital’s media relations team-- and that she was then transferred to a security guard who she said laughed at her.

Gordon, the family’s lawyer, said Rebecca Jackson came to the hospital to receive treatment and that her injuries, including a gash on her forehead, were not self-inflicted.

The video of her with the hospital workers went viral after a witness named Imamu Baraka posted it on his Facebook page and it quickly caused outrage on social media.

Cheryl Jackson, who said her daughter is being treated at a different health care facility, expressed her gratitude to Baraka.

“I’m eternally grateful to Mr. Baraka because if it wasn’t for him, Rebecca would be dead,“ she said.

Federal law requires emergency rooms to "stabilize" patients before releasing them, regardless of whether they can pay their medical bills.

In Thursday's statement, Muntha said, “Over the last week, a cross-departmental team across both UMMC campuses has completed a thorough and unsparing internal review of the circumstances that led to this incident, and is committed to being transparent to the greatest extent possible, given what is allowable by law regarding patient information and personnel matters.”

The statement said an “internal investigation identified a breakdown in coordination of several touchpoints within the continuum of care after the point of medical discharge to ensure the social needs of the patient were met.”

The hospital said it has added expertise from medical safety experts at critical decision points around complex discharges, conducted staff education and training on updated post-discharge procedures and implemented personnel action to hold individuals accountable for the incident.

“I’m confident the decisions and actions we have made in response to this incident are in keeping with the high standards of excellence to which we have always held ourselves, and that our actions address the root causes of last week’s breakdown,” Suntha said.