In the Courts: EMTALA: Hospital’s Failure to Follow Protocol Results in Denial of Summary Judgment

December 2, 2015 | Risk Management News

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​The U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico allowed allegations of failure to screen under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) to proceed in the case of a patient who died after a hospital failed to identify three of his nine gunshot wounds. EMTALA requires that facilities provide a medical screening exam to determine whether an emergency medical condition exists and, if needed, provide stabilizing treatment or facilitate an appropriate transfer to a facility with the capability to treat the patient.

To establish an EMTALA screening violation, a plaintiff must show that a patient arrived at a hospital emergency department (ED) seeking treatment and that the hospital did not "provide for an appropriate medical screening examination." Hospital screening protocols play a central role in the performance of EMTALA screening, and adherence to them provides a point of reference to gauge uniform treatment of similarly situated patients. Accordingly, evidence that a hospital failed to follow its own screening...

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