Texas Hospital Under Fire for Booting Illegal Immigrant

Woman with life-threatening tumor told to seek treatment in Mexico
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2011 8:25 AM CST
Texas Hospital Under Fire for Booting Illegal Immigrant
John Sealy Hospital in Galveston is part of the University of Texas Medical system.    (John Sealy Hospital)

A Texas hospital has sparked a debate on medical ethics after allegedly ejecting a woman who had been admitted for surgery over the fact that she was an illegal immigrant. Maria Sanchez says she had been at the hospital for six days and was being prepared for surgery to remove a growing, banana-size, potentially fatal spinal tumor at a Galveston hospital when a doctor told her she had to leave immediately, the Houston Chronicle reports. "They treated us like animals," says her husband, a legal US resident.

Records at the hospital state that the 24-year-old was discharged for being undocumented and lacking insurance. No law requires hospitals to treat illegal immigrants outside the emergency room—or bans them from doing so—but hospitals are ethically obligated to treat patients regardless of status after they have been accepted for treatment, according to a Baylor College of Medicine professor of medical ethics. "Every hospital knows this," he says. "This is not rocket science ethics." After being discharged, the couple sought help from at least five other hospitals before moving to Houston, where Sanchez is currently being treated. Click for the story of a Chicago hospital that deported a quadriplegic to Mexico.
(More illegal immigration stories.)

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