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A federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday charging the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with denying a patient care because he did not have health insurance.

The complaint alleges that HUP violated a federal law by refusing the patient and that the patient suffered brain damage due to the resulting delay in care.

HUP denies claims of wrongdoing, spokeswoman Susan Phillips wrote in a statement.

On the evening of May 2, 2008, Marcus Murray, 56, arrived at Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury, N.J., with chest pain, according to the complaint. Murray’s doctor at UMH determined that he needed further care elsewhere for a tear in the wall of his aorta, which was releasing blood into his chest.

The UMH doctor called HUP and Murray was assigned an operating room and a bed, medications were ordered for him and he was billed for the medications, Murray’s attorney Thomas R. Kline said.

HUP called back at 11:50 p.m. to inform UMH that Murray had not been accepted as previously determined. The UMH nurse’s patient record for Murray states that the HUP doctor “refused to accept patient due to no medical insurance,” according to the complaint.

Murray was transferred to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., where he suffered cardiac arrest, leaving him “blind” and “totally disabled physically and cognitively,” Kline said.

The complaint alleges that HUP violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which states that any hospital that receives Medicare cannot refuse to accept the transfer of a patient who is in need of the hospital’s specialized services.

“We believe Mr. Kline’s allegations are groundless,” Phillips wrote. “We welcome the opportunity to defend our actions in this case.”

“The records speak for themselves,” Kline said in response to HUP’s statement. “There is no running away from that fact.”

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