The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act ("EMTALA"), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, imposes a specific obligation on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination when an individual presents to the emergency department and a request is made for examination or treatment of a medical condition, including active labor, regardless of the individual's ability to pay. Notably, EMTALA also applies when an individual who is neither a hospital inpatient nor a hospital outpatient is on hospital property and a request is made for examination or treatment of an emergency condition. For those individuals with emergency medical conditions, a hospital must provide either stabilizing treatment or an appropriate transfer to another hospital.
UCLA Health's EMTALA Policy (HS 1333) provides detailed guidance about compliance with UCLA Health's EMTALA obligations.
EMTALA provides for the imposition of civil monetary penalties (up to $50,000 per violation) on hospitals and physicians for: (a) negligently failing to appropriately screen an individual seeking medical care; (b) negligently failing to provide stabilizing treatment to an individual with an emergency medical condition; or (c) negligently transferring an individual in an inappropriate manner.
Violation of EMTALA can also result in the termination of a hospital's participation in the Medicare program and/or exclusion of a physician from federal and state health care programs.
EMTALA also provides for private rights of enforcement for any individual who is harmed as a direct result of a violation of the statute, and for any medical facility that suffers a financial loss as a direct result of a violation of the statute.
If you should have any questions regarding UCLA Health's EMTALA obligations or believe that a violation of EMTALA may have occurred (either by UCLA Health or another hospital), please contact the UCLA Health Office of Legal Affairs, the UCLA Office of Risk Management and/or the UCLA Health Compliance Office. These offices are also available to provide EMTALA training to UCLA Health departments and staff.