Ethical and Legal Concerns for Emergency Room Physicians

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  • Topic: Emergency department, Hospital, Emergency medicine
  • Pages : 3 (1156 words )
  • Download(s) : 871
  • Published : October 1, 2011
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There are unique ethical and legal obligations of the Emergency Room Physician. Commonly faced issues include patient “dumping”, organ donation, and Do-Not Resuscitate orders. These issues have ethical and legal considerations for the Emergency Room Physician in regards to their responsibilities and actions. The ethical right for individuals to have access to health care already has a form of legal binding within the United States as seen in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. “In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which forbids Medicare-participating hospitals from “dumping” patients out of emergency departments” (Pozgar, 2010, p. 221). The act provides that: In the case of a hospital that has a hospital emergency department, if any individual (whether or not eligible for benefits under this sub- chapter) comes to the emergency department and a request is made on the individual’s behalf for examination or treatment for a medical condition, the hospital must provide for an appropriate medical screening examination within the capability of the hospital emergency department, including ancillary services routinely available to the emergency department, to determine whether or not an emergency medical condition ... exists (Pozgar, 2010, p. 221). Through this Act, a form of guaranteed access does exist. “Federal and state statutes impose a duty on hospitals to provide emergency care. The statutes require hospitals to provide some degree of emergency service. “If the public is aware that a hospital furnishes emergency services and relies on that knowledge, the hospital has a duty to provide those services to the public” (Pozgar, 2010, p. 271). Unfortunately, this has caused issues in Emergency Room overcrowding. While the Emergency Room Physician is obligated to “emergency care”, “Realistically, when hospitals live up to this requirement, it is difficult for them to confine the care they...
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