Q What is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act?
When an individual believes they are the victim of medical malpractice, they usually start researching online and come across information about the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Before 1986, hospitals were not required to provide emergency medical care for everyone, which means if you were unable to pay the hospital, they could refuse treatment. That year the EMTALA was passed into law and now certain hospitals, as outlined below, must provide medical care to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they have insurance, their ability to pay, or citizenship. This means the hospital cannot delay or deny treatment while they investigate your insurance status or payment methods.
Only hospitals that accept federal funds (which is relatively all hospitals) from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), must follow the mandates of the EMTALA.
Some hospitals violate the terms of EMTALA, which can immediately compromise an individual's health and possible cause long-term damage or death.
If you discover your emergency room experience was in violation of the Act, contact a medical malpractice lawyer in Raleigh to discuss your case and learn what you may be entitled to under state and federal law. Brent Adams is the author of a book about medical malpractice and frequently speaks at national legal events where he educates other lawyers on injury law.
Do not falsely believe that this entitles you to free or discounted medical care. If you are treated under EMTALA and are unable to pay, you are required by law to satisfy the balance of your healthcare costs.