The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), customarily referred to as the “Anti-dumping law, was enacted in 1986, as an appropriate way to forbid Medicare-participating hospitals from dumping patients out of the emergency departments (Buchbinder & Shanks, 2007). Conventionally, the intent of this statue was to prevent the rejection of patients, transfer of patients to other facilities while in critical conditions or refusal to treat patients due to their inability to carter for treatment (Avery, 2009). In light with this, the act also mandated the issuance of a proficient Medical Screening Examination (MSE) to every patient presented in any department established as urgent care provider. The MSE is to ascertain if a patient is suffering from any emergency medical condition. Further, MSE is to be carried out by a qualified physician or nurse practitioner.
The EMTALA act is under the United State Code, title 42, chapter 7, section 1395dd, which deals the examination and treatment for emergency medical condition and women labor. The act was enacted to law by the US congress- bicameral legislatures of the federal government- as a part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985 (Avery, 2009). The act only pertains to participating hospitals; practically, all hospitals in the United States.
The EMTALA is a fundamental enactment in the medical profession and hospitals. Its consistent application offers an elaborate solution to dealing with emergency issues. In tandem with this, there is considerable number of facets that employees in the field of medicine should be acquainted with for better application of this statute. For instance, the employees must know that MSE is mandatory and should be performed in every patient in the emergency department (Avery, 2009). Further, submission of reports on receipt of destabilized patients transferred without a certification of a physician is essential, coupled with the maintenance of proper records of such patients. The transfer of patients should also be treated with utmost professional judgment. Avery (2009) affirms that various critical aspects should be recapped before a transfer of a destabilized patient. Such include; certification in writing by physician in charge, the urgency of the treatment by the patient at the receiving facility, and the medical benefits of the transfer surpass the risks of the transfer. In addition to this, the transfer is to be effected by qualified personnel and high-tech transportation equipment.
Imminently, there are consequences accompanied by the failure to abide by the dictates of the EMTALA. Since the act is a federal statue, cases alleged to EMTALA violation are always presented to the federal district courts, Court of Appeal and finally to the US supreme court. The physicians who negligently violate the act, are subjected to civil money penalty of a maximum 50, 000 dollars per violation, and a maximum of 25, 000 dollars per violation if the number of beds in the hospital are less than 100. Similarly, physicians involved in falsifying transfer certificates, misrepresentation of parent conditions and failure to respond to the incoming emergency, are also subjected to civil money penalty. Medicare agreement of a hospital may also be revoked in cases of violation of the act by a hospital (Avery, 2009).
The EMTALA offers varied number rules and restrictions that aid in proficient management of medical practitioners, resources, patients and health care. According to Buchbinder and Shanks (2007), the law restricts the discussion of financial or insurance information by the emergency room staff (ER). It also ensures that ER staffs understand all the statutory rules regarding transfer of patients. Similarly, it provides adequate intervention to medical emergency issues that attributes to saving of lives.
Concisely, the EMTALA has enhanced the handling and treatment of patients with emergency medical conditions in the emergency department. Similarly, the act has far-reaching effects, ascribed to the provision of better health care and treatment to uninsured patients and poor patients. The act has also led to the amelioration of the services offered by physicians and nurse practitioners, attributed to the fear of facing penalties due to violation of the act.
Avery, M. D. (2009). Medical- Legal: Review of Emergency Medical Treatment & Active Labor Act (EMTALA). American Journal of Clinical Medicine, 6. Retrieved from [http://aapsus.org/articles/18.pdf]
Buchbinder, B. S. & Shanks, H. N. (2007). Introduction to Health Care Management. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.