| Read Time: 3 minutes | Medical Malpractice
sue hospital for refusing treatment

In some instances, you might be able to sue the hospital for refusing medical treatment.

Suing a doctor for denying medical treatment is not always possible.

The ability to file a lawsuit depends heavily on the circumstances of your case and the facility where it happened.

Federal law dictates that Medicare-approved private hospitals must offer emergency care to all patients, irrespective of their insurance status or ability to pay. 

If a hospital or an urgent care clinic in New Mexico refuses to treat you, leading to health complications, you might have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and seek compensation.

To learn more about whether your situation qualifies, contact the New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers at Poulos & Coates today. 

Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)

Most hospitals must provide emergency treatment to anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. Unfortunately, this was not always the case.

Private hospitals routinely denied treatment to patients unable to pay, transferring them to public hospitals, a practice known as “dumping.”

However, in 1986, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was enacted to prevent this practice.

Private hospitals receiving Medicare funds must provide emergency care to patients, regardless of whether they have money to pay. Furthermore, they’re prohibited from discharging or refusing further treatment until the patient is stable.

Not all medical establishments fall under EMTALA. Private doctor’s offices, hospitals without emergency departments, and medical labs do not have an obligation to provide emergency care. However, some argue that EMTALA’s jurisdiction should extend to hospital-affiliated urgent care clinics. 

It’s worth noting that while most private hospitals must treat you, you are not necessarily entitled to immediate care.

Emergency department triage nurses rely on their skills to assess conditions and prioritize treatment.

Waiting several hours for treatment because the emergency room had higher priority cases doesn’t mean they refused treatment. 

When Can Hospitals Deny Treatment?

There are scenarios where a hospital can legally deny emergency medical care, including when patients seek treatment primarily to obtain drugs, have delusions of illness without being sick, or behave destructively while awaiting care.

Under What Circumstances Can a Doctor Refuse to Treat a Patient in New Mexico?

EMTALA provisions do not apply to private doctors who can refuse care to patients for almost any reason, including the inability to pay.

However, it’s illegal for doctors to refuse treatment based on discriminatory factors such as:

  • Age, 
  • Gender, 
  • Sexual orientation, 
  • Race, 
  • Nationality, or 
  • Religion. 

However, they can refuse treatment to new or existing patients for various reasons, such as: 

  • Non-payment from a prior visit, 
  • Not accepting new patients, or
  • No longer accepting that insurance policy. 

If an existing patient could suffer adverse health effects without continued treatment, the doctor is legally obliged to provide treatment until the patient finds a new doctor.

If your condition worsens because the doctor denied care, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice case.

How Can a New Mexico Medical Malpractice Attorney Help You?

You can attempt to file a medical malpractice claim if you believe you’ve been wrongfully denied treatment by a hospital.

At Poulos & Coates, our skilled New Mexico malpractice lawyers stand ready to help. Our firm primarily focuses on medical malpractice cases, so we know what constitutes a potential claim.

With an attorney who’s also a licensed medical doctor and a nurse on staff, you’ll be represented by one of the best medical malpractice firms in New Mexico. 

We have unique insights into medical malpractice cases thanks to our exceptional blend of legal and medical experience.

Contact our office immediately if you believe a hospital is wrongfully refusing medical treatment. 

We are passionate about securing justice for our clients and will go above and beyond to uphold your rights.

Count on our decades of medical malpractice experience to guide you through this difficult time, offering you the support you need to seek the compensation you deserve.

Author Photo

Victor Poulos

Vic Poulos & Greig Coates became law partners in April of 2002, when the two medical malpractice litigators merged their offices, combining what is now over seventy years of litigation experience, to form Poulos & Coates, LLP. Licensed to practice before all State Courts of Texas, New Mexico, Iowa, and Kansas. Licensed to practice before the United States District Courts of Kansas, Iowa, New Mexico, and Texas (Western, Eastern, Southern, and Northern Districts of Texas), as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.X. Ax Court.

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