Term: Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act - EMTALA Revised 11/14/11 Coleman

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was included in the COBRA legislation of 1986. This act was created to prevent any discrimination of patients visiting Emergency Rooms based on the inability to pay. All hospitals that accept Medicare patients have to abide by this law for Medicare patients but, this also applies to indigents with no insurance at all. Even though the cost of Emergency Room Care can be astronomical for a Hospital to incur they cannot refuse Emergency room treatment due to lact of insurance, Medicare or poor insurance. EMTALA Act seeks to prevent "dumping" of patients that was prevalent in the past.

There are 3 main rules that Hospitals that accept Medicare must adhere to and they are as follows:
  • Hospitals are required to provide an appropriate Medical exam of anyone that comes into their Emergency Department.
  • For any individual that has checked into the ER and the intial exam determines they have an emergency condition: they must stabilize the individual or transfer them to a facility.
  • Once it is established the individual has a Emergency Condition, they cannot transfer the patient until they are stabilzed. Many rules must be followed if they cannot be done.

Web Resources:

Related Terminology:
The Act also applies to the refusal to treat individuals regardless of citizenship. Hospitals could be fined as much as $50k per EMTALA violation. Congress has appropriated $1 billion dollars for the reimbursement of facilities that take care of and stabilze patients that fall under the guidelines of EMTALA of noninsured or lack of citizenship.

1. http://www.aaem.org/emtala/
2. http://www.emtala.com/faq.htm
3. http://www.hhs.gov/asl/testify/t060726c.html