| Read Time: 3 minutes | Medical Malpractice
can you sue hospital for EMTALA violation

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is a federal statute requiring hospitals that participate in Medicare to treat people who come into their emergency rooms, even if they do not have insurance or can pay for treatment.

In 1986 and 1987, research at Cook County Hospital in Chicago indicated that the majority of transfers into the hospital were transferred due to lack of insurance.

The research determined that the practice of transferring patients for financial reasons delayed care and jeopardized the patient’s health.

The EMTALA was created to prevent the practice of private hospitals dumping uninsured or low-income patients in public hospitals without considering their condition or stability.

Failure to comply with the EMTALA can carry severe consequences for hospitals and other emergency medical services.

Below, the Las Cruces, NM medical malpractice lawyers at Poulos & Coates, LLP go over EMTALA and if you can sue a hospital for failing to comply with EMTALA. If you have any questions, please contact us today.

What Is an EMTALA Violation?

An EMTALA violation, under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, occurs when physicians fail to provide necessary stabilizing care or facilitate an appropriate transfer for an individual with an emergency medical condition if the hospital lacks the capacity to stabilize the condition. It’s a legal requirement in the United States to ensure that all individuals with emergency medical needs receive the necessary care, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status.

The EMTALA lays out three distinct requirements for hospitals that participate in Medicare. 

First, the hospital must provide a medical screening examination (MSE) on anyone who comes to the hospital and requests care to determine if an emergency medical condition (EMC) exists.

An EMC is defined as “a condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in placing the individual’s health (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy, serious impairment to bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of bodily organs.”

Second, if the hospital finds an EMC, it must either stabilize the patient’s condition to the best of its ability or transfer the patient to a hospital with the appropriate capabilities.

Third, the hospital must transfer or accept a patient who needs their services if they have capacity.

Additionally, the EMTALA prohibits hospitals from attempting to delay treatment to determine a patient’s insurance status or ability to pay. 

If a hospital violates the EMTALA, they are strictly liable for any losses you suffer because of their violations.

Unlike an EMTALA violation, a negligence claim requires proof of negligence to recover. The EMTALA violation penalties can range from civil liability to a hospital losing its Medicare funding.

How to Report an EMTALA Violation

Anyone can report a suspected EMTALA violation to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The appropriate agency will start investigating your complaint and determine whether the hospital violated the statute.

You can file a complaint without providing your name and remain anonymous throughout the investigation.

If you need help filing your EMTALA complaint, contact an attorney at Poulos & Coates to walk you through the process.

What Is an EMTALA Violation? Contact a Lawyer at Poulos & Coates Today to Find Out

Many patients know about medical malpractice claims at the state level.

However, not everyone knows about EMTALA violations that can warrant civil claims against hospitals and other emergency medical services.

Our medical malpractice attorneys at Poulos & Coates, LLP are committed to victims of hospital EMTALA violations.

With a medical doctor and nurse on our staff, we are confident in our ability to aggressively represent the rights of injured victims.

Contact a medical malpractice attorney at Poulos & Coates today to discuss your case.

Author Photo

Greig Coates, M.D., J.D.

Over the last thirty years, Dr. Coates has successfully represented plaintiffs in every conceivable type of medical malpractice lawsuit–from single-physician cases to complex litigation involving over a dozen doctors and several hospitals. Dr. Coates has taken several thousand physician depositions in his career involving every known physician specialty and sub-specialty, and almost as many depositions involving hospital personnel such as nurses, techs, and administrators. He has tried several dozen cases to successful verdicts.

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