After completing this module, you should be able to answer the following questions.
What is EMTALA?
What happens if I choose not to follow EMTALA
Who is impacted by EMTALA?
In 1968 Congress passed the
Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor
Act of 1986 (EMTALA) in response to the practice of emergency rooms transferring
patients from one emergency room to another for care (dumping). Patients
were ostensibly transferred to another facility better equipped to provide for
their medical care, but in reality were selected because they lacked insurance
or evidence of the ability to pay for their medical care. In many cases
the receiving emergency facility was unaware of the transfer until the patient
In practical terms, EMTALA regulations require that all persons seeking
treatment in a hospital emergency room should be evaluated promptly, regardless
of their ability to pay. Monetary and civil penalties are incurred if
individuals are not evaluated appropriately. EMTALA applies to all hospitals that receive Medicare funding and have
emergency rooms. A Medical Screening Examination (MSE) must be provided to
all persons requesting examination or treatment. The MSE must not be
delayed or denied while inquiries about payment or insurance take place.
The purpose of the MSE (perform by a physician or qualified medical person) is to
determine whether a condition is present that is deemed a medical
emergency. MSE may include ancillary services and specialty consultation
within the facility's ability. An emergency medical condition is any acute
symptom including pain that could reasonably result is serious jeopardy to the person's
health, serious dysfunction of an organ, or body parts without immediate treatment.
Consider your decisions for each of
the following clinical scenarios.