NORTH MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) - North Shore Medical Center has agreed to pay $2,000 to settle allegations that it refused to accept two uninsured patients who required emergency medical services after inquiring about their health insurance and that it violated corporate policies about emergency care.
This week, the Agency for Health Care Administration issued a final order approving a settlement agreement.
According to a complaint, a woman in labor on December 2nd, 2018, tried to drive herself to North Shore but delivered the baby in her car before she got there. Emergency medical service providers who were called to the scene tended to the woman and her newborn and drove them to a different hospital, the name of which was not disclosed in the complaint. That hospital did not provide obstetrical care, and the woman told an emergency-room physician that she wanted to be taken to North Shore because that is where she had delivered other children.
The complaint indicates that the physician called North Shore and asked it to accept the patients. According to the complaint, a supervising nurse who answered the call first asked about the patients' insurance. When the emergency-room physician said they were uninsured, the complaint alleges, the supervising nurse said North Shore wouldn't take the transfer. When the physician pressed, the report alleges, the nurse replied: "There is no reason I can give you. We cannot accept this patient at this time."
AHCA, which investigated the incident, hit North Shore Medical Center with a $1,000 fine for refusing to accept the patients. The agency also fined North Shore another $1,000 for failing to adhere to its corporate policies about emergency medical transfers. Those policies require the hospital to accept patients who are being transferred from facilities that don't have the capability to care for them.
North Shore has a neonatal intensive care unit and had the capacity to care for the newborn, according to the complaint.
Also, during the investigation, AHCA interviewed the supervising nurse on duty the night of the incident. The nurse said supervising nurses don't have the authority to decide whether to accept transfer patients from other facilities. Also, the nurse said the alleged conversation wouldn't be logged because logs aren't required to include documentation of conversations with an emergency room physician from a transferring hospital.
Regulators noted in the complaint that the corporate policy allows supervisors to decide about patient transfers and requires details about conversations to be included in logs.
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