As of this morning, the World Health Organization reports that the number of reported swine flu infections has increased to 236 people. With global attention focused on issues relating to human health and healthcare, this presents an opportunity to look at a controversial issue involving the treatment received at hospital emergency rooms by those individuals without health insurance.
Despite any reported cases in Easton, Bethlehem, and Allentown, Pennsylvania, there seems to be a growing concern that this flu can hit our local area. In the event the flu penetrates Easton, Bethlehem, or Allentown, hundreds of people without health insurance can be dramatically effected.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act is a federal statute which governs when and how a patient may be (1) refused treatment or (2) transferred from one hospital to another when he is in an unstable medical condition. The stated purpose of the statute is to prevent hospitals from rejecting patients, refusing to treat them, or transferring them to “charity hospitals” or “county hospitals” because they are unable to pay or are covered under the Medicare or Medicaid programs. As the statute states, any patient who “comes to the emergency department” requesting “examination or treatment for a medical condition” must be provided with “an appropriate medical screening examination” to determine if he/she is suffering from an “emergency medical condition”. If he/she is, then the hospital is obligated to either provide him/her with treatment until he/she is stable or to transfer him/her to another hospital in conformance with the statute’s directives.
[THE FOREGOING IS A GENERAL DISCUSSION ON THE LAW AS IT PERTAINS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT. IF YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC LEGAL QUESTION, PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE AND SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY]& ;