Both hospitals and individual doctors can be held liable under the EMTLA, which doubles the potential financial punishment. Decisions to divert ambulances from private hospitals were closely related to whether the nearby hospital refusing ambulances was public or private. If you do not have health insurance, you will be asked to enter into a payment arrangement with the hospital. The data suggest that, despite declining patient volumes, some hospitals make more money during ambulance diversions because profits are higher on procedures such as scheduled surgeries, and surgeries can be cancelled when there are few beds due to high emergency volumes.
In light of these reasons, many courts will apply the general rule that a hospital has no obligation to assist all patients who come through its doors. It also prohibits unnecessary transfers while care is being administered and prohibits the suspension of care once it has begun, provisions that prevent patients who cannot pay from being sent to other hospitals. The study, published in the August issue of the journal Health Affairs, suggests that hospitals continue to dump patients in violation of the law. Instead, if a patient's conditions do not fall within the protections offered by EMTALA, the hospital can refuse to admit or treat the patient simply because he or she is uninsured.
Even so, the EMTALA does not apply to hospital outpatient clinics that are not equipped to handle medical emergencies. Of the 527 hospitals, 117 had violated the law more than once, and for-profit hospitals were much more likely to do so. For any patient who comes to the hospital's premises seeking emergency medical care, or who appears to need emergency medical care, the hospital must conduct a medical examination to determine whether or not the patient has an emergency medical condition. If the denial of emergency treatment results in further harm or death, the EMTALA provides that the patient may recover available damages for personal injury under the law of the state in which the hospital is located, as well as appropriate equitable relief.
Their efforts may involve the hospital's internal billing department, collection agencies and even lawsuits. In some cases, it may be important to understand the reason why a hospital refused to admit or treat a patient. According to the study, private hospitals are more likely to divert ambulances if a nearby public hospital is already turning them away. If hospital staff determine that the patient does not have an emergency medical condition, the hospital has no further obligation to the patient if the patient is uninsured.