The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued waivers for some Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) requirements, acknowledging certain expectations are not reasonable to achieve during a pandemic. However, EMTALA still applies.
There are some situations in which hospitals violate EMTALA, or the standard of care, by making unreasonable transfer arrangements that result in untoward outcomes. Potential liability exposure for the transferring hospital makes it important to document that the closer hospitals rejected the transfer and why the benefits of transferring the patient to a particular hospital outweigh the risks.
The case of Moses v. Providence Healthcare System is a good illustration of how a court can interpret the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act in a surprising way, says Ann Lambrecht, RN, BSN, JD, FASHRM, senior risk specialist with Coverys, a Boston-based company that provides insurance, risk management, and claims service for caregivers who are located in the Northeast.
The Kentucky Supreme Court recently affirmed an award of punitive damages against a hospital for violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act that was 386 times the hospital’s share of compensatory damages. The jury originally awarded $1.5 million in punitive damages against the hospital, which was later reduced to $1.45 million.
To comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, patient access leaders at Wall Township, NJ-based Meridian Health keep the emergency department registration process “clear and simple,” says access services trainer Donna J. Roettger, CHAA.