Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP
Call OUr Law Office TODAY
Massachusetts 413-346-5305
Vermont 802-681-4687
Toll Free 800-365-9913
Our Practice Areas

Federal law may extend beyond ERs to protect urgent-care patients

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA, is a federal law intended to ensure that hospitals don't "dump" emergency patients who may be indigent or uninsured by refusing to examine or treat them or by sending them to other hospitals. EMTALA requires hospitals to thoroughly screen all patients who report to emergency rooms and, if they are found to have a serious medical condition, to properly stabilize them before transferring or releasing them.

Hospitals that fail to comply with EMTALA can be hit with significant fines. Additionally, the patient may be able to bring the hospital to court, obtain damages and have his or her attorney's fees paid.

A recent ruling by a federal judge in Rhode Island suggests that EMTALA covers not only traditional emergency-room visits, but can also extend to off-campus urgent-care clinics affiliated with hospitals. In the Rhode Island case, a 49-year-old woman reported to the urgent/walk-in care clinic at a local hospital with complaints of severe chest pain and pain in her right arm. Shortly before she went to the clinic, she texted co-workers that she was going to the "ER" to get checked out for possible heart-attack symptoms. At the clinic, she was diagnosed with reflux and sent home with a "gastrointestinal cocktail." She died the next day of cardiovascular disease.

Her estate sued the hospital that operated the clinic for both malpractice and for violating the EMTALA. The hospital sought to dismiss the case, arguing that EMTALA did not apply because the clinic wasn't an "emergency care facility." The judge disagreed, finding that because it held itself out as treating emergency medical conditions on an urgent basis without a scheduled appointment, it fit the definition of an emergency care facility. In fact, the court determined, based upon her texts, that this particular patient, thought she was going to an ER when she visited the clinic. As a result of this decision, the estate's claim was allowed to proceed.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Our Team Today

Tell Us About Your Legal Issue

For more information, please call 800-365-9913 or fill out the below form to send us a confidential email:

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

North Adams Office
1330 Mass MoCA Way
North Adams, MA 01247

Toll Free: 800-365-9913
Phone: 413-358-4652
Fax: 413-663-7970
North Adams Law Office Map

Pittsfield Office
2 South Street
Suite 115
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Toll Free: 800-365-9913
Phone: 413-358-4652
Fax: 413-443-1894
Map & Directions

Bennington Office
116 South Street
Bennington, VT 05201

Toll Free: 800-365-9913
Phone: 802-681-4687
Map & Directions

Springfield Office
1331 Main Street
Springfield, Massachusetts 01103

Toll Free: 800-365-9913
Phone: 413-358-4652
Fax: 413-443-1894
Map & Directions

  • Super Lawyers
  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • PeerReviewRated
  • American Association for Justice
  • ABA | American Bar Association
  • MassBar |Association
  • NAELA
  • American College of Trial Lawyers