UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Med-Legal

Title: EMTALA (Part One)

Keywords: EMTALA, medicolegal (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/1/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 7/12/2024)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

EMTALA (Part One):

  • The three general duties created by EMTALA are to provide (1) an appropriate medical screening examination (MSE), (2) stabilizing care, and (3) appropriate transfer of unstable patients.
  • An appropriate MSE is an exam comparable to similarly situated patients (ie: non-discrimatory).
  • Patients are stable if it is reasonably likely they will not deteriorate during a transfer.
  • The duty to stabilize arises only if the physician diagnoses an emergency medical condition (EMC).
  • Once stabilized, the hospital and physician have fulfilled their duties under EMTALA.
  • The transfer criteria only apply to unstable patients.
  • Receiving hospitals may get fined if they fail to report an inappropriate transfer.
  • A hospital with specialized capabilities must accept appropriate transfers if it has the capacity to care for the patient.

Thanks to Larry Weiss, MD, JD

Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice, is general in nature, and because individual circumstances differ it should not be interpreted as legal advice.The speaker provides this information only for Continuing Medical Education purposes.