Case Law / Emtala

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The article I chose to discuss was a court case involving the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). A Dickinson County hospital violated EMTALA for failing to provide emergency care for a patient who was transferred to a different hospital without being completely stable enough for transfer. In 1985, Congress passed the law of “Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act” also known as (EMTALA) to ensure public access and treatment to emergency services regardless of race, ability to pay, or legal status (U.S. Dept. of Health, 2010). This act states that all individuals needing emergency medical support should never be discharged or transferred until their condition is stable. This act also states that hospitals should then provide stabilizing treatment for patients with emergency medical conditions. If a hospital cannot stabilize a patient within its capability, the hospitals duty is then to treat the patient’s condition and in the event the patient needs to be transferred to become stable then a risk and benefit consent form needs to be signed by the patient. The transferring physician must also sign a certificate that explains the transfer outweighs the risks of not being transferred. In this paper I will examine the court case and convey how this case relates to the nature, sources, and functions of the law. On February 11, 2004 a patient was brought into the emergency room at Dickinson’s Memorial Hospital. The patient, at eight months pregnant, had originally called 911 with contractions and vaginal bleeding; before the ambulance could arrive to her the amniotic sack had ruptured. Even with consulting a specialist from the hospital that the patient would be transferred to, administering medications, and an ultrasound performed, the results showed slight abnormality in the placenta. The patient was then transferred to another hospital in Sioux Falls at approximately 10:25 p.m. by ambulance. While being transferred the patients...
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