Thursday, October 30, 2008

EMTALA - An Unfunded Federal Mandate...

Since I don't work everyday in the ED, I have decided that on my days off that I discuss some of the many issues in the practice of emergency medicine (EM). Perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced in this field, is a law known as EMTALA. EMTALA is a Federal statutory-regulatory complex, consisting of statutes (laws passed by Congress) and regulations (rules adopted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, to enforce and further define the EMTALA statute).

EMTALA stands for the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1986.

In the case of a hospital that has a hospital ED, if any individual comes to the ED and a request is made on the individual’s behalf for examination or treatment for a medical condition, the hospital must provide for an appropriate medical screening examination within the capability of the hospital’s emergency department, including ancillary services routinely available to the emergency department, to determine whether or not an emergency medical condition exists. Not written into the law is who will pay for the services. In essence, all ED's and physicians must provide the services regardless of costs!

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