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Attorney Henry E. Valenzuela

What patients should know about the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Did you know that health care providers cannot refuse to treat you at the emergency room, even without insurance? Provisions of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act protect patients from dangerous medical practices.

Review the terms of the EMTALA if you or a loved one has experienced mistreatment or emergency room negligence in Florida.

Understanding EMTALA

This federal law says that emergency rooms cannot turn away patients even if they do not have insurance and cannot pay for care. A health care provider must provide treatment that stabilizes your condition before discharging you from the hospital. EMTALA applies to hospitals that participate in Medicare, which includes the majority of health care facilities.

If you come to the emergency room, you must receive a screening exam to determine whether you have a treatable medical condition. The staff cannot delay this exam to ask questions about your ability to pay or your insurance coverage. If the exam detects an emergency condition, the provider must offer stabilizing care.

Defining an emergency

EMTALA refers to stabilizing and treating emergency patients. The law defines an emergency as a medical condition that would put your health, ability to function or bodily organs in jeopardy. The definition also includes care for pregnant women in labor.

Under the law, the emergency department must be an area of the hospital equipped to provide care in a traumatic situation. EMTALA does not include outpatient clinics such as urgent care centers. These types of facilities may refer an emergency patient to a qualifying emergency room.

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