WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal from a Frederick woman who claimed her father was the victim of negligent medical care and “patient dumping” by Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.
Leo Scafidi, an 82-year-old Rockville resident, died in 1995 shortly after he was transferred from Holy Cross to a nursing home in Silver Spring.
His daughter, Maria Baxter, claimed in court documents that the hospital violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act when it discharged her father, who was extremely ill with kidney and cardiac problems.
The act, designed to stop “patient dumping,” says that any hospital with an emergency department is required to treat injured patients and women in labor, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for services. Baxter charged that the hospital moved her father because it thought he did not have insurance.
Although Scafidi had been a patient at Holy Cross for over three weeks when he was transferred, Baxter said Holy Cross still violated the emergency- room act.
“I don’t think they handled it right. They badgered my mother. He was dying. Why discharge him and send him to a nursing home?” she asked.
A Holy Cross spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.
But lower courts have repeatedly sided with the hospital, saying the act was created to prevent hospitals from turning away emergency room patients, not to police the transfer of patients already admitted and undergoing treatment.
But Baxter was undeterred. She petitioned the Supreme Court in November, after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against her in August.
She argued that Holy Cross pressured her mother, Helen, to transfer Scafidi, saying his insurance coverage was running out and the family would soon be responsible for costly medical bills. Baxter insists that her father had adequate coverage.
Baxter’s petition said Scafidi was admitted to Holy Cross on May 13, 1995, and underwent hemodialysis until June 1. On June 9, more than three weeks after being admitted to the hospital, Scafidi was moved to an area nursing home under the written authority of an unknown Holy Cross medical employee — a “Jane Doe, RN.”
“They don’t even know who discharged him,” Baxter said. “And within hours he was dead.”
Baxter’s petition said her father was treated with negligence, that the family was not notified of risks associated with transferring him and that Holy Cross never got written consent to move him. “They handled it in an animal way,” she said.
Baxter said she took the case to the Supreme Court because she wanted justice for her father, who owned a barbershop in Washington’s Union Station, and for his 78-year-old widow, who now lives with Baxter in Frederick.
“If this happened to my father, it happened to other people and I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else,” she said.