What is EMTALA?

The medical services available to you in Greenville and throughout the rest of the U.S. are almost universally viewed as being among the best in the world. However, high-quality care often comes at a price, and one that you may be concerned about your ability to meet. So are you then to ignore the injuries and ailments afflicting you and your family? Of course not. The law has provided a means for you to receive quality care regardless of your ability to pay. 

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act was established to prevent hospitals from refusing certain services to patients who are perceived to present a financial risk. The details of this Act (as shared by the American College of Emergency Physicians) state that a hospital is obligated to provide you with the following services: 

  • A medical screening to determine if an emergency medical condition exists
  • (If an emergency medical condition exists) Stabilizing treatment until the threat to your health subsides
  • A transfer to another facility if the hospital is not equipped to provide you with needed care

Your treatment cannot be delayed (or said to be contingent upon) you presenting evidence of medical insurance coverage or an ability to pay. 

EMTALA defines an emergency medical condition as “a condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in placing the individual’s health (or the health of an unborn child) in serious jeopardy…” That final stipulation requires that you receive treatment for issues related to pregnancy when they are needed. 

It is important to remember that EMTALA applies only to healthcare facilities capable of providing emergency services. Outpatient clinics are not obliged to follow this statute. 

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