Feds force hospitals to run ads for their EDs

Westminster, MD-Carroll County General Hospital will see anyone in its ED "without delay, regardless of a person's ability to pay," according to a newspaper ad.

As part of its $32,500 settlement with the federal government, the Maryland hospital had to run the ad in local newspapers specifically proclaiming its open-door policy.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, DC charged the hospital last year with four instances of patient dumping.

The hospital denied the charges but settled to avoid litigation. "We referred one patient who asked to have her stitches removed to a primary-care physician," according to a hospital spokesperson, who added that the three other cases were similar in nature.

A second hospital, Southwest Hospital and Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, settled similar charges in October. The hospital, which paid more than $12,000 in fines, was also required to run newspaper ads.