The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor act, or EMTALA has been on the books since 1986. The initial intent of the legislation was to ensure nondiscriminatory patient access to emergency care and to prevent the practice of dumping, or discharging of uninsured patients. EMTALA claims often go hand in hand with traditional medical negligence claims because they can often occur at the same time. However, due to the fact that EMTALA claims are Federal in nature, they are not subject to state damage caps. Therefore, if a patient suffers injury as a direct result of an EMTALA claim they may receive compensation in excess of the medical malpractice claim.
EMTALA establishes two general obligations for hospitals and physicians:
1) The duty to provide an appropriate and timely medical screening examination that is reasonably calculated to detect an emergency medical condition.
2) In the event an emergency medical condition is found the hospital or physician must stabilize the patient prior to transfer or discharged.
Whether a physician or hospital acted appropriately with regards to EMTALA is fact sensitive and determined on a case by case basis. Furthermore, the mere existence of an EMTALA violation does not constitute a recovery. A victim of an EMTALA violation must show their injuries are a direct result of the EMTALA violation in order to receive compensation.
If you feel you or a loved one has been injured as a result of Medical Malpractice or an EMTALA violation it is important to have experienced counsel to guide you through the legal process and inform you of your rights.