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Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is a law imposing liability on hospitals for what is known as "patient dumping.

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This occurs when (1) a hospital that is capable of providing the necessary medical care transfers a patient to another facility or (2) a hospital simply turns the patient away due to the person's inability to pay for services.

EMTALA was enacted to ensure that every patient whom a hospital determines to have an emergency medical condition either be treated until stabilized or appropriately transferred to another medical facility unless the patient refuses to consent to the recommended treatment or transfer.

Hospitals that knowingly, willfully, or negligently fail to comply with the requirements of EMTALA legislation are subject to termination or suspension of their Medicare provider agreements. Hospitals, as well as their responsible physicians, are also subject to civil monetary penalties of up to $50,000 for each violation of the provisions. Hospitals and physicians may also be subject to medical professional liability in state or federal court if patients are injured as a result of inappropriate transfer.

Related Terms

Patient dumping refers to a statutorily imposed liability that occurs when a hospital capable of...