Los Angeles Hospital Accused of Slowing Homeless Dumping Probe

A hospital under investigation for dropping off a paraplegic man on Skid Row last week has refused to release his medical records, the city attorney said.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo on Wednesday accused Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center of stonewalling the probe. Hospital officials disputed the accusation.

Witnesses saw the 41-year-old man, whose name was not released, crawling in the street on Feb. 8 after being dropped off by the driver of a van contracted by Hollywood Presbyterian, authorities said.

Investigators are looking into whether the hospital violated federal laws against releasing or transferring patients who are medically unstable.

Delgadillo said hospital attorneys won't release the man's medical records even though he signed a consent form authorizing investigators to review them.

The attorneys questioned the authenticity of the signature and expressed concerns about the man's privacy, Delgadillo said.

"If they're truly interested in getting to the bottom of what happened, they need to release these medical records so we can conduct our investigation more expeditiously," he said.

Hollywood Presbyterian spokesman Dan Springer said the city attorney's office rescinded an agreement to provide additional documentation containing signatures of witnesses who saw the man sign the form.

"We didn't feel comfortable releasing it without having some additional verification," Springer said.

"We're trying to protect the privacy of an individual in a case that's become very high profile," he added. "The last thing we want to do is release his records and find out they're not used appropriately."

City attorney spokesman Nick Velasquez said a chief prosecutor from his office was with the man when he signed the form.

"That should be sufficient," Velasquez said.

Delgadillo said the man was receiving treatment at County-USC Medical Center and has been offered legal assistance.

In the last two years, several hospitals and law enforcement agencies have been accused of dumping patients and criminals on the streets of Skid Row without bringing them to a mission or service provider.

In 2005, Hollywood Presbyterian was accused of dumping a homeless man on Skid Row who was unable to walk and was strapped to gurney. At the time, a top executive denied the charge but said the hospital takes discharged patients to Los Angeles Mission at their request.