It's officially flu season! Which means sicker kids in the waiting room and lots of germs going around! Sometimes I wish we could stand outside of the ER and if patients are okay we could send them home, because they are more likely going to catch something while waiting 🤷🏼♀️ But guess what!? That's DEFINITELY not allowed... EVER!
Have you ever heard of EMTALA?
EMTALA stands for Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. It ensures that any patient who comes to an ER cannot be turned away, regardless of if they can pay or not, or if their complaint is truly an emergency. This means that any patient that walks into the ER has the right to be seen by a provider & medically cleared.
I have never once heard an ER doctor say, "they don't carry our insurance, we can't see them"... so TV shows that are constantly showing this happen are not telling a true story. (Inpatient & specialties may be a different story- I won't speak for them)
If a patient needs to be transferred to a different hospital, an ER doc must clear them for transfer. An example of this is a patient in labor coming into a pediatric ER. She would be seen by the doctor and once stabilized, she would be transferred to a hospital with labor and delivery services. The original hospital cannot turn her away simply because they don't have OBGYN specialists on staff.
While researching EMTALA, I learned that because of this law, emergency physicians give more charity work than any other type of physician because they are not paid for seeing uninsured patients. They provide approximately 30 hours of free work a WEEK treating patients who come through the ER. Can you imagine working that hard & not getting paid at your own job? I can't! I would quit in a heartbeat... Everyone can agree that American healthcare is a broken system. For patients, for nurses, and for doctors. So let's all have a little grace today- for the patient who is tired of waiting, for the nurses working overtime shifts, and for the doctors who truly give so much with very little given back ❤️