The Bush administration has issued rule changes affecting the 1986 Emergency
Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). While the US Department of Health
and Human Services released a statement saying that the rules are simply meant
to clarify the law, patients rights advocates worry that the rules will lead
to hospitals turning away indigent patients.
EMTALA requires any hospital taking part in Medicare to provide "appropriate
medical screening" to anyone who appears at an emergency department and asks
for it. On threat of a $50 000 fine and suspension from Medicare, the
hospitals also must stabilize the patient or transfer the patient to a clinic
or hospital that can do so.
Vastag B. Emergency Medical Treatment. JAMA. 2003;290(14):1844. doi:10.1001/jama.290.14.1844-a