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