Hospitals in the United States — especially private hospitals — have an unpleasant history of
refusing to treat patients who are perceived as being unable to pay their bills. To address
these issues, Congress passed a statute called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor
Act, or EMTALA. The purpose of the statute is to provide for universal rights regardless of
ability to pay or citizenship and to ensure screening for an emergency or labor. As a statutory
right, EMTALA acts to reinforce our healthcare system by ensuring critical access to all.
In this course, you will explore the duty that healthcare organizations have to screen and treat patients in the emergency room setting. You will examine what constitutes an emergency and what the penalties are for failing to meet EMTALA obligations. There are some instances when it is appropriate to transfer a patient to another healthcare facility; you will explore those requirements as well. You will also discover the infrastructure required to comply with these healthcare obligations and examine the costs of uncompensated care to the healthcare organization as well as the community at large.