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In many instances, an injured person’s first contact with the medical aspect of a personal injury or medical malpractice case is through the emergency room at a local private or public hospital.  Whether the patient presents with or without insurance, with or without identification, or with or without funds to pay for medical services, treatment must be provided.  Public and private hospitals are prohibited from denying patient care by the Emergency Medical and Treatment Labor Act (EMTLA) which specifically requires that any patient coming into an emergency department must be stabilized and treated regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.  However, if the condition is such that the emergency department cannot properly stabilize the patient, the department can provide an appropriate transfer.

These rules apply to emergency departments, but may NOT apply to urgent care/walk in facilities.  If you need medical care and treatment and cannot afford to pay, go to the emergency room.

Once a patient arrives and seeks medical treatment, can they be “dumped?”  “Dumping” is a practice of emergency rooms and hospitals where patients are indigent, homeless, or where extensive and expensive medical treatment is required, and the facility     anticipates a loss of revenue/profit if treatment is provided.  This practice still occurs, but with the availability of Medi-Cal and Medicare, this practice occurs far less frequently today. . .but it can happen!

If you seek medical treatment and are denied proper care, a potential case of medical negligence may be available.  Potential negligent acts of an emergency department include turning away a patient for financial reasons; mis-diagnosing a patient; “rushing” treatment to avoid further responsibility; or misinterpreting test results, all of which will put the patient’s life in danger.   Be an advocate for yourself and demand the care and treatment to which you are entitled.

If you have concerns regarding medical treatment provided, contact the attorneys at Heiting & Irwin for a free initial consultation.


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