For many people, their local hospital is where they receive their primary health care. Hospital emergency rooms are an especially favored treatment option by individuals who do not have insurance or do not have an established relationship with a doctor.
Like a private doctor’s office, the medical personnel of a hospital must render reasonable care to patients or risk being liable for medical malpractice. But while doctors’ offices can deny care to patients for specific reasons, hospitals do not have the same luxury.
In fact, it would be considered medical malpractice if hospitals were to do this.
The EMTALA and Mandatory Hospital Treatment
In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). This requires that any hospital that receives federal Medicare funding must provide medical treatment to individuals facing a medical emergency. They must do so, no matter if the person has insurance or the financial means to pay for treatment.
There are certain exceptions to the EMTALA. For example, a hospital may not need to provide treatment if:
- The hospital does not have an emergency room;
- The hospital is a facility that does not provide emergency care;
- The hospital does not accept any federal funding or is a private doctor’s office;
- The patient becomes disruptive or is not, in fact, ill and in need of care; or,
- The patient appears to be seeking controlled substances or drugs
Otherwise, if none of these exceptions apply, the hospital must generally provide care to a patient facing a medical emergency. This includes providing delivery services to expectant mothers who are in labor.
A Failure to Treat May Be Medical Malpractice
A hospital that fails to treat you in an emergency may violate EMTALA. If the hospital’s failure to treat resulted in harm to you, then the hospital’s failure to treat may also constitute medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice exists where a doctor, medical provider, or facility like a hospital fails to provide you with reasonably competent care. This includes making a reasonable and informed decision regarding providing you with care. Refusing to provide timely treatment in violation of EMTALA may be considered an unreasonable and negligent act.
Speak to a Los Angeles Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one tried to receive emergency care from a hospital but were denied, and this caused your injuries, speak with The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., without delay. Even if the hospital’s decision did not violate EMTALA, you might still have a medical malpractice case against the hospital.
Our office provides new clients with a free initial consultation. During this meeting, we will go over the reasons for the hospital’s refusal to treat and whether that amounts to medical malpractice. You only have a limited time to pursue compensation for any harm you suffered, so reach out to our office today for help.