ED Legal Letter – February 1, 2014
February 1, 2014
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Wisconsin Court Rules On-call Physician with Privileges is an 'Employee' of the Hospital for Purposes of EMTALA Whistleblower EnforcementTwo years ago, a Texas court, in the case of Dr. Zawislak v. Memorial Hermann Hospital, determined that emergency physicians were "employees" of the hospital for determining whether they could sue the hospital under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act's (EMTALA) whistleblower provision for retaliatory termination (see the February 2012 ED Legal Letter).
An inebriated frequent emergency department (ED) patient, discharged after a cursory examination and no treatment, was found dead in the hospital's parking lot a few hours later.
Failure to obtain specialist consultation is one of the main recurring themes Ken Zafren, MD, FAAEM, FACEP, has seen over the years in reviewing medical malpractice claims against emergency physicians (EPs) as an expert witness.
"If the EP had only told me, I would have come right in and admitted the patient," is what a consultant is almost certain to claim if named in a lawsuit resulting from a bad outcome that occurred after a patient was discharged from the ED.