Can a Hospital Deny Medical Treatment?

Most hospitals with emergency rooms are required to provide emergency treatment to patients in need of emergency medical care. It does not matter if the patient can pay for the care they receive.

However, this was not always the case. Before 1986, private hospitals frequently denied care to the indigent. 

Private hospitals would transfer those unable to pay to public hospitals. This practice, called “dumping,” resulted in treatment delays, medical complications, and even death. 

Medicare-Participating Hospitals Must Provide Emergency Care

To address patient dumping, Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act or EMTALA in 1986. This Act mandates that private hospitals that receive federal Medicare funding provide emergency care to patients experiencing symptoms of a serious condition or labor.

Hospitals subject to the EMTALA must treat a patient until they are stable. The EMTALA does not apply to hospitals without emergency departments.

What is a Emergency Medical Condition Under the EMTALA?

Under the EMTALA, an emergency medical condition is one with sudden onset and symptoms such as intense pain and includes:

  • Substance abuse with a straw;
  • Psychiatric disruption;
  • Active labor;
  • Severe impairment of a bodily function; or
  • Serious dysfunction of a body part or bodily function.

Our experienced birth injury lawyers in Louisville understand that an emergency medical condition may jeopardize a patient’s health or that of an unborn child.

When Can Hospitals Refuse to Provide Emergency Medical Treatment?

Hospitals can refuse to provide patients with emergency medical treatment when a patient is:

  • Primarily seeking illicit drugs;
  • Suffering delusions of an illness but is not ill; and
  • Behaving dangerously or destructively while waiting for treatment.

A private hospital may deny a patient medical treatment for routine care. 

Do I Have a Valid Claim for Denial of Medical Treatment?

If you were denied medical treatment by a hospital, you may qualify to file a claim for medical malpractice. However, you must have been seeking emergency medical care at the time of denial and:

  • Have been displaying symptoms of a serious medical condition or have been in active labor;
  • The hospital must have had an emergency department;
  • The hospital must be a recipient of federal Medicare funds; and 
  • You must have suffered a compensable injury as a result of the denial of care.

There are additional factors and complex legal questions to consider when contemplating a medical malpractice claim. Contacting a medical malpractice attorney in Louisville is the optimal starting point for any potential lawsuit.

Contact an Experienced Kentucky Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or your loved one was denied emergency care by a hospital, you may be entitled to compensation for any resulting injuries and pain and suffering. Call Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC, to schedule a complimentary consultation and have your questions about medical malpractice in Kentucky answered.

At Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC, our team of medical malpractice attorneys in Louisville have protected the rights of victims in Kentucky since 1986. We will advise you of your legal rights and fight to hold those responsible for your injuries accountable for their recklessness.

There is a strict deadline to file a medical malpractice claim in Kentucky so contact Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway & Conway, PSC, in our Louisville office now!