At many hospitals, it is routine these days to collect patients’ payments and insurance submittals up front, before further treatment is administered. According to a senior vice president at the Healthcare Financial Management Association, approximately three-quarters of healthcare and hospital systems are implementing a point-of-service collection model that asks patients for payment at the time when services are needed, while some medical facilities will go as far as waiting to perform important tests and procedures until they’ve received payment.
Under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (some call it the anti-patient-dumping law), a patient who has a health emergency has to be stabilized and treated before any hospital personnel can discuss payment with them – hospitals need to provide care NO MATTER a patient’s insurance or ability to pay. If the hospital can’t stabilize the patient within its capacity, however, it must provide a proper transfer, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and those discussions can occur before treatment.
This week’s episode of The Resident focuses on the controversial and emotional question of “patient dumping,” when a well inspected employee of Chastain experiences a fatal illness that needed instant treatment. At first, we were led to believe that the patient had no means of payment, leading her to deny treatment by Conrad (Matt Czuchry) and Dr. Pravesh (Manish Dayal). Then, we learn of a new problem: she’s actually an undocumented immigrant in the United States.
It’s a touchy subject – one of the touchiest of subjects, really, as it delves into politics and ethics. Sure, the CEO (Merrin Dungey, Once Upon a Time and Conviction) and the Chief of Surgery (Bruce Greenwood) attempt to transfer the patient to another hospital, which is by law – how they went about doing so, however, is a different story. I’m unsure of how the process works, but it was clearly all about money, not the patient’s well-being – the hospital would be spending huge sums of their money just on the patient, and Chastain Park Memorial Hospital “isn’t a charity.”
If it were me, I’d treat the patient without charge, and I would do it in a heartbeat, if it means I’m saving their life. It’s true that you can’t save everyone in need, but it’s also true that you should at least try your hardest to do so.
I actually enjoy that the series is “controversial.” Though probably outstretched, and despite the fictitious settings, props, and characters, the things you see at Chastain are real. There are so many issues in this world, things that are taken for granted and that are simply wrong. The Resident is doing the addressing … we, in the real world, must be the change – somehow, anyhow, and yes, thinking out loud CAN help.
Things to ponder:
- Dr. Jude Silva (Warren Christie) is clearly not a fan of the rules set at Chastain, and finds that the atmosphere for reenlistment is better. If war is better than working at Chastain, then there’s something wrong with the place. By the way, while we’re on the subject of Dr. Silva, he’s totally going to steal Nic (Emily VanCamp) away from Conrad, isn’t he? What ever happened to “Bros Before Babes”?
- Barb Olson (Kellee Stewart) gave me a big migraine. She’s the one Barb I don’t want justice for. Bye-bye, Barb … good luck getting hired at Chastain again!
- Maybe Nic is right: maybe we shouldn’t trust Dr. Hunter (Melina Kanakaredes). What do YOU think of her?